DVS Sciences Unveils First-in-Class Mass Cytometer for Use in Understanding and Diagnosing Disease
News Nov 26, 2009
Toronto research team unveiled a first-in-class analytical instrument at the recent Great Lakes International Imaging and Flow Cytometry Association annual meeting.
Marking the culmination of six years of technology development research funded by Genome Canada through the Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI) and others, a Toronto research team unveiled a first-in-class analytical instrument at the recent Great Lakes International Imaging and Flow Cytometry Association annual meeting in Pittsburgh.
The CyTOF™ Mass Cytometer, being made and marketed by DVS Sciences (Toronto), was developed by a team led by Dr. Scott Tanner (University of Toronto, and co-founder and CEO of DVS Sciences). The instrument is capable of simultaneous quantitative and independent determination of up to 100 biomarkers in individual cells, not possible with existing technologies.
In addition to many basic research applications, this has potential for early disease diagnoses and monitoring of treatment efficacy in individual patients through tissue sample analysis.
The CyTOF™ Mass Cytometer addresses the challenges of flow cytometry using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, thereby combining two previously unrelated technologies. The technology provides massively multi-parameter single cell analysis, addressing the challenges of flow cytometry through the approach of using stable isotope tags with atomic mass spectrometer detection. This enables researchers to specifically identify very rare cells with distinct surface markers – such as cancer initiating cells – in patient samples.
Tanner and his team have also developed MAXPAR™ Reagents, which are new bioanalytical reagents for massively multi-parametric labeling of cells for mass cytometry. Already, and leading up to the public unveiling of the technology, sales have reached nearly CAD $2.5 million with the sale of three instruments and some 100 reagent kits.
Funds for the development of the mass cytometer were first awarded in 2003 under Genome Canada’s Applied Genomics and Proteomics Research in Human Health competition (Mass Spectrometer-based Flow Cytometer, Methods and Applications – principal investigator: Dr. John Dick), and more recently in 2008 under Genome Canada’s Technology Development competition (Massively Multiparametric Flow Cytometer Analyzer – principal investigator: Dr. Scott Tanner), which funds the development of new enabling technologies that will be available to researchers across Canada within two years of project competition.
Funding for this project totals $10.6 million, including money from Genome Canada through OGI, Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation’s Ontario Research Fund (MRI-ORF) and other funders, notably the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), which also invested in DVS Sciences through its commercialization program and provided business advice and support.
Tanner’s aim is to grow the business to become a significant research, development and manufacturing entity in Canada, and a significant employer of highly skilled technical people, helping to create new jobs in science as well as aiding growth in the manufacturing sector by outsourcing the manufacture of product components. The DVS Sciences founding team has, between them, over 90 years of combined commercial product development experience, which has been essential in the rapid translation of the initial research.