Pushing the envelope in medical imaging, a Deep Science start up is evolving new paradigms in disease diagnostics, to make a strong, positive impact on global health.
While medical professionals are able to look at blood and other biological samples under high-powered microscopes and arrive at the right diagnoses to enable appropriate treatment, ‘Molecular probes’ are a niche concept, not too commonly known outside technical circles. Going all the way down to the molecular level for useful imaging, however, has far-reaching implications for medical diagnostics, but is a challenge that present-day technology is still grappling with. Against this background, one company has set out to create a paradigm shift in this area of medical expertise.
Viable Near Infra Red (VNIR) Biotechnologies in Bengaluru is one of the few Indian companies engaged in developing molecular probe technology to combat conditions that require a more in-depth diagnosis to be understood and treated better. VNIR was conceived in 2017 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) and incubated at the Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre.
It derives its name from what it leverages to innovate and develop all its products – Near Infra Red (NIR) emission, a ground-breaking new technology in molecular probes. The advantage this technology offers is enhanced safety for both its users, as well as when it comes to live cell imaging. The VNIR molecular probes are capable of detecting ranges from reactive oxygen species to identify stress markers and even DNA, proteins like albumin and organelles like mitochondria, among others.
“VNIR had always imagined a dual impact – firstly on the research community and secondly in diagnostics”, say co-founders, Dr. Govindaraju and Dr. Meher Prakash.
It has evolved a unique line of products designed for live cell imaging and diagnosing diseases in their early stages. “Malaria diagnostics especially via point of care devices has been limited because all the technologies focused on imaging; by calibrating fluorescence readout with infection level, we are developing a new way of doing point of care diagnostics with Malaria. Alzheimer’s has remained an enigma because there are no ways of effectively detecting it. VNIR molecular probes can detect Alzheimer’s plaques with high sensitivity without any confusion with other neurodegenerative diseases.”
The company received the ELEVATE100 Grant from the Government of Karnataka in 2017, and has also been awarded the Biotechnology Innovation Grant (BIG) by India’s Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).