Innovation

Houston Methodist Technology Developed by SF Biotech Firm Sparsa Inc.


By Texas Medical Center | August 24, 2014

Houston Methodist and San Francisco-based Sparsa Inc. have entered into an agreement to develop technology invented by Houston Methodist Research Institute scientists Lidong Qin, Ph.D., and Yujun Song, Ph.D., that quickly and cheaply measures the presence of a wide range of blood biomarkers.

The exclusive license to develop the “V-chip” into a commercial product will be for certain health care-related fields, including the detection of biomarkers for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, substance abuse, and pregnancy, among others.

“I am very excited to bring this incredible development in diagnostics testing to the market,” said Sparsa President Robert Englert, “By incorporating the V- Chip technology into the data management platform we developed at Sparsa, we plan to deliver a more efficient, cost-effective, convenient, and connected medical information product that can touch many aspects of modern health care.”

Sparsa’s plans are to develop a product that takes the information contained in a small amount of blood and immediately analyzes and transmits the data to secure medical database, where doctors or other health care providers can access it.

The original V-chip, or volumetric bar-chart chip, is about the size of a business card. It is composed of two thin pieces of glass, about 3 in. by 2 in. In between the glass slides are etched wells containing four things: hydrogen peroxide, up to 50 different antibodies to specific molecules of interest, and the enzyme catalase, a drop or two of blood and a dye — any dye will do.

Initially, the wells are kept separate from one another. A shift in the glass plates brings the wells into contact, creating a contiguous, zig-zagged space from one end of the V-chip to the other. A chemical reaction follows, and dye is pushed up the channels. The distance dye travels is proportional to the molecule of interest’s concentration.

V-chip was developed with funding from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. More information about the original technology can be found here.




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