Helia Biomonitoring is developing an innovative technology for continuous biomolecular monitoring. The technology has the potential to continuously measure many substances (small molecules, hormones, drugs, peptides, proteins, nucleic acids) and can cover a wide range of concentrations (picomolar to millimolar). Potential applications include the continuous monitoring of patients in order to provide therapy feedback and prevent severe conditions, and the continuous monitoring of industrial and environmental processes.
The technology called BPM, Biosensing based on Particle Mobility, is based on the tracking of the motion of particles that are molecularly tethered to a surface, where the motion reveals reversible biochemical interactions with single-molecule resolution. Hundreds of particles are simultaneously recorded by optical imaging, giving access to data with high statistics and allowing biosensing with high sensitivity and precision. We are now developing biomolecular assays and we are engineering an automated BPM prototype system for testing in practical applications.
Biomarker Monitoring by Particle Mobility Sensing (BPM)
Helia investigates a range of applications. Three examples are given below.
CONTINUOUS PATIENT MONITORING
Real-time, precise and reliable data are important for the treatment and coaching of patients. Sensors are available for the monitoring of physical parameters such as body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate, but these parameters do not provide information on biochemical processes in the body. Biochemical testing can be performed in a clinical laboratory, but the procedures are slow and therefore not suited for tracking variations in biomolecular concentrations over time. Commercial monitoring sensors are available for glucose, but do not yet exist for other important substances such as peptides, proteins, hormones, pharmaceutical drugs, or nucleic acids. The Helia technology has the potential to continuously measure such substances, for monitoring disease status and treatment effect. Important applications are the monitoring of rapid inflammatory response (e.g. cytokines) and the monitoring and regulation of drug levels (e.g. antimicrobials), for more effective life-saving treatments and lower risks of toxicity.
INDUSTRIAL BIOREACTORS AND FERMENTORS
A large variety of products are industrially produced in fermentors and bioreactors, using live biological cells in complex biological media. An important challenge in these production processes is that the properties of the cells and the media fluctuate. The presence of variabilities and the lack of data complicate research, cause high development costs, and lead to variations in product quality, limited yields, and product rejection rates. Here, continuous biochemical monitoring will be valuable, for automatic on-line monitoring of critical molecular parameters (e.g. nutrients, contaminants, products), closed-loop control, and optimizations of the industrial processes.
SEPARATION PROCESSES IN FOOD INDUSTRY
The production of food and food ingredients from agricultural materials involves processes such as separation, extraction, and fractionation. The production processes are complicated by the fact that the input materials as well as the individual process steps can exhibit variabilities, causing variable product quality, inefficiencies in case of over-processing, and product rejections in case of under-processing. Laboratory-based sample testing takes too much time for integration in the industrial workflow. Here, continuous biochemical monitoring can be valuable, for automatic on-line monitoring of critical molecular parameters (e.g. products, contaminants, secondary metabolites, anti-nutritional factors, allergens), closed-loop control, and optimizations of the industrial processes.