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UMBC Life Sciences Startup Launching First Product

Life sciences company Plasmonix will begin selling its first product, QuantArray, early this year. The Baltimore County startup plans to commercialize two other products later in 2013, the QuantaWell 100 and the Quanta NP, and will seek $2 million to $3 million for another round of financing, CEO William Gjust says.

Plasmonix develops support tools to detect cells in medical research and clinical diagnostics by enhancing luminescent and fluorescent signals using metal nanoparticles. QuantArray, its latest product, has various applications in performing assays, a test that analyzes components, and enhances luminescent signals hundred-fold over conventional methods. The technology can be be applied not only in the life sciences, but also apparel, paint and cosmetics. 
 
QuantaWell 100 also enhances signals hundred-fold but in a different format than QuantArray. Quanta NP is a supplementary solution that is used to improve the efficiency and sensitivity of commercially available assays.
 
“It’s a rarefied field. There is no direct competition that we are aware of,” says Gust of Plasmonix’ products. 
 
Gust says potential customers are any company or institution that performs assays, from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to academic facilities. Market research showed that the average price for standard assays is $25 per substrate microscope slide. Gust says he has not determined a price for QuantArray but it is likely to be slightly higher than the standard assay.
 
In 2011, Plasmonix received $1.5 million from venture capitalists in its initial round of financing. It has also received $200,000 from the Maryland Biotechnology Center and $100,000 from the Maryland Industrial Partnership, to be used by its academic collaborators.
 
Plasmonix grew out academic research, primarily at the University of Maryland Center for Fluorescence Spectroscopy. The company was formed in 2009. In 2011, it moved into the incubator, bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park, where it occupies a 1,500-square-foot office. The company employs four.
 
“We are translating academic research into robust, reproducible commercial techniques,” says Gust.
 
Source: William Gust, Plasmonix
Writer: Barbara Pash
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