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Fast Detection of Diseases

Ostendum has already reached worldwide fame with its portable labs that can detect viruses, bacteria and biomarkers in an early stage and at any location. This young company recently won the Frost & Sullivan prestigious Technology Innovation Leadership award. The removal to High Tech Factory makes the next step possible: to market this innovative detection method.

Aurel Ymeti, Ostendum’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer is enthusiastic. In the near future, carrying out a relatively simple test on a human sample will very quickly determine whether an individual has cancer for example. A higher concentration of biomarkers for a specific type of cancer in the sample can indicate that something is wrong. “For the patient this means a greater chance of recovery. Cancer is usually only discovered after the disease has already progressed. If we can detect the disease at an earlier stage then that’s an enormous step forward.”

Thanks to Ostendum’s technology such a routine test for cancer doesn’t seem that far away now. The company has developed a detection method which is up to a thousand times more sensitive than today’s methods. The system itself consists of two parts: an optical disposable silicon chip on which the sample is placed, and a detector that reads the chip. Ymeti: “The high level of sensitivity of the lab-on-a-chip method implies that a minimal, or even no processing of the fluid to be tested (blood, urine, saliva) is needed to make a diagnosis. It’s not only fast; it also makes the analysis much more reliable.”

HEALTH INSURERS

Ostendum was founded in 2008 by Alma Dudia and Aurel Ymeti, two PhD students from the Nanobiophysics research group of the University of Twente, and Paul Nederkoorn of International Ventures, University of Twente. Since then they have gradually improved their technology step by step. The health industry is evidently in need of a fast and reliable testing method because it is cheaper and more patient friendly. Hence health insurers Achmea and De Friesland are investing in the company. Thanks to this financial boost Ostendum is now able to take the next step, says Ymeti. “It’s time to obtain certification for our first product and market it. We hope that we will be ready to do that in the course of 2017.”

Meanwhile, the company has a team of seven people on its payroll. Ostendum’s own laboratory, located in High Tech Factory, has been fitted out with recently purchased equipment that can print antibodies on the chips. The purpose of the antibodies is to detect viruses, bacteria and specific proteins. “Using this printing machine we are now able to produce a very large number of chips with fewer antibodies within a short space of time The test results are highly promising. Very soon, analyzing a sample of fluid will probably only take a few minutes instead of days. Moreover, it will be many times more accurate.”