Molecular diagnostics is projected to be a rapidly growing, multibillion-dollar business over the next few years with many exciting and diverse applications.

New South Wales startup, Kimiya, specialises in providing analysis platforms that allow non-invasive molecular diagnostics to be conducted at low-cost using portable devices. The company has been using ANFF facilities and expertise to help fabricate microfluidic chips that demonstrate what its future products are capable of.

The diagnostic technique central to Kimiya’s technology applies molecular biology to medical testing and opens the door to personalised medicines as well as early-detection benefits of illnesses such as breast cancer.

By analysing specific genetic components from a patient’s DNA, the technique would let a doctor identify abnormalities that could, for example, indicate that a tumour is growing out of control or that a person is suffering from a particular viral infection. Having this information would allow preventative measures to be taken that could save lives, reduce pressure on overstretched medical centres and cut down on the cost of care.

Kimiya worked with ANFF while fabricating its proof-of-concept lab-on-a-chip device that will eventually have the capability of rapidly detecting sequences of genetic code and transferring the information to a laptop or smartphone. The chip, consisting of a network of chambers and microchannels, was fabricated by ANFF personnel in New South Wales before being passed along to Kimiya for proof-of-concept testing in their purpose designed and built electronic testing rig.

As a startup, being able to implement early stage microfabrication with state-of-the-art facilities and engage with local expertise within Kimiya’s home state of New South Wales, was crucial for the company.

“This local engagement has meant that communications were efficient and streamlined, helping to make the process simple and cost-effective, while at the same time providing opportunity for Kimiya staff to be trained in the use of advanced manufacturing equipment,” Matthew Worsman, a Director at Kimiya, said. He continued, “Without the ANFF partnership, the microfabrication process would have most likely been conducted overseas at a higher cost to the company in terms of finance, time and reduced support.”

Successful microfabrication of the Kimiya proof-of-concept chip was a key technical milestone on the path towards the development of a fully integrated molecular diagnostic platform, enabling the system’s operation to be verified in Kimiya’s laboratory.

The company performed experiments using a simple test fluid to provide evidence that the control system and associated software functioned together with the proof-of-concept chip and other essential components.

“Kimiya is very pleased to have forged a relationship with ANFF and has welcomed the professional support it has received,” Matthew said. “For startups undertaking technically challenging work in the areas of micro- or nano-technology having this level of assistance in early stage development is both encouraging and important for success.”

In the short term, Kimiya plans to complete its proof-of-concept testing program before embarking on complete prototype development, a phase that will require iterative development of an increasingly complex lab-on-a-chip system, both in terms of the way it’s made and what it can do. “A deepening of our engagement with ANFF is anticipated as we progress on our journey,” Matthew added

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