The Purigen platform uses isotachophoresis (ITP) technology to purify and concentrate nucleic acid in disposable microfluidic chips. ITP marks a divergence from the established methods of nucleic acid extraction.
Column, bead and precipitation-based extraction all entail breaking down cellular lipid membranes and using either a physical substrate or centrifugation to separate nucleic acids from other parts of the cell. PerkinElmer, Qiagen and Roche are among the companies that offer automated extraction systems based on these technologies.
ITP, in contrast, entails applying a current to the sample to create an electric field gradient that separates DNA from other substances based on their charges. Purigen thinks ITP has benefits over the incumbent technologies.
“The platform provides much greater yields of nucleic acid template than previously possible, from many important clinical genomics sample types, including formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues. This enables researchers to maximize the insights gained from precious samples using the latest analytical instruments,” Purigen CEO, Barney Saunders, told BioPharma-Reporter.
Saunders highlighted the speed of the ITP process, which takes less than one hour, and its ability to create templates that are immediately compatible with downstream library preparation chemistries for next-generation sequencing (NGS), among other advantages of the system.
Big name investors have bought into the idea. Agilent Technologies, a provider of laboratory products, including automated NGS sample preparation systems, led the round, with the support of new investor Cota Capital, alongside existing backers 5AM Ventures and Roche Venture Fund. Purigen raised $26.4m (€23.6m) through the series B round.
The funding comes at a time when Purigen is gearing up to start selling products, initially by building out its North American commercial team.
“Purigen is using a portion of the series B proceeds to build out its commercial operations and sales channel in advance of the launch of its sample preparation system in the second half of 2019. The instrument system will be priced at less than $50,000 in the US,” Saunders said.
Sauders expects to introduce Purigen’s first product, Cultured Cells to DNA (CCD), this summer. CCD extracts DNA from inputs of 10,000 to 100,000 cells. A second product that improves preparation from FFPE samples is due to come to market later in 2019.
Purigen will allow prospective customers to run their samples on its platform through a proof of principle program. The program will be open to cultured cells and FFPE specimens.
Purigen is working to expand the number of sample types the system can process and is adding to its development team to support the work. Sauders expects customer feedback to inform development of the system.
Another portion of the series B money will fund the expansion of Purigen’s financial and manufacturing teams. Saunders thinks these investments will help Purigen serve customers, as it evolves beyond its roots as a development-stage company and becomes a commercial operation.