The award was provided for the company’s research and development of HemaSpot, a transportable blood sampling device for common use, based on dried blood spot (DBS), a technology known for screening newborns. DARPA is supporting the research, as it anticipates the device’s possible capacity of improving point-of-care diagnosis on the Army.
Phase II of the company’s development project will include a scaling-up of the manufacturing process, quantification of the technology’s methods, and production of field-use data.
The HemaSpot is expected to allow the testing of blood samples outside of a lab, to improve sample quality, to simplify collection, and to allow the storage of stable samples for years at room temperature.
The device collects two drops of blood with a finger stick and dries it inside a protective cartridge. The sample is then stabilized at room temperature so that it can be sent out for analysis. While traditional DBS is a multi-step process that the company believes may involve more risks, Spot On believes that with their process, common disease markers, such as proteins, nucleic acids, and small molecules, can be measured.
“Receiving additional funding from the option contract is key to our efforts for ramping up our manufacturing efforts,” explained Dr. Jeanette Hill, Spot On Sciences’ Chief Executive Officer. “We know from customer feedback that meeting a lower price point and improving and demonstrating analyte quantitation methods will ensure widespread adoption of our products.”
The researcher also believes it could be a development for research into infectious diseases such as HIV. “We are seeing real traction around the world for infectious diseases and medical research, especially in the area of HIV testing,” continued Dr. Hill. “This contract will help drive those efforts as we help solve accessibility, transport and sample quality issues in the field.”
DARPA awards are dedicated to projects developing new technologies for military or dual uses — an area that the Texas biotech sector contributes to consistently. Last year, a researcher from the University of Texas at Dallas was granted $1 million to create medical devices that could improve the control of prosthetics by wounded soldiers. Dr. Walter Voit has created shape memory polymers, which are materials that can respond to the body’s environment and become less rigid when implanted in the body, in order to reduce the failure registered in current prosthetics and other implantable medical devices.