nanoComposix Awarded STTR Funding to Develop Nanoparticle-Based Technologies for the Cryopreservation of Zebrafish Embryos

San Diego, CA, April 27, 2017 – nanoComposix, Inc., a global supplier of precisely engineered, highly characterized nanoparticles, announced that it was awarded a Phase I contract of $225,000 to investigate the cryopreservation of zebrafish embryos in collaboration with Professor John Bischof in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota.  Zebrafish are an important model organism for studying human genetics, cancer and other diseases, and possible pharmaceutical treatments, and there is a need for researchers to preserve and share zebrafish strains.  This collaboration addresses the problem of reproducibly thawing large embryos post-cryopreservation by using a new ultrafast warming technology being developed by Professor Dr. Bischoff at the University of Minnesota and specially-tailored gold nanoparticles from nanoComposix.

The title of the STTR contract from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is "Gold Nanoparticle Laser Warming of Cryopreserved Zebrafish Embryos". In the past decade, laboratories around the world have produced tens of thousands of different variants of zebrafish for a wide range of genetic and biomedical research.  Maintaining all of these valuable variants is expensive, risky, and beyond the capacity of even the largest stock centers. Cryopreservation of zebrafish sperm, eggs and embryos is vital to the strategy of the NIH Division of Comparative Medicine, which envisions increased multi-institutional research using animal models. To date, zebrafish sperm and eggs have been successfully cryopreserved, but zebrafish embryos have not. Methods and instruments that enabled the long-term storage and transport of cryopreserved embryos would address a critical need for zebrafish researchers.

This project will develop and optimize a gold nanoparticle (GNP) based rapid-warming technology that has successfully generated viable zebrafish grown from cryopreserved embryos. Due to the large size of the embryo, traditional warming mechanisms are too slow and result in the formation of ice crystals that damage the embryos and prevent them from being viable.  The key innovation of this research addresses this limitation in the warming step.  Injected gold nanoparticles act as a distributed network of ultra-efficient heaters that generate warming rates of millions of °C/min when illuminated with an infrared laser.  To achieve this ultrafast and reproducible warming, stable, low-toxicity GNPs with strong absorption at the laser wavelength will be fabricated by nanoComposix and a micro-injection technique developed at the University of Minnesota will be optimized to safely introduce the gold nanoparticles into the embryos. The embryos will be rapidly cooled to prevent damaging ice formation, and laser warming techniques will be optimized to increase embryo survival after thawing.  The combined foundational research of Dr. Bischof and his collaborators along with the expertise in gold nanoparticle synthesis and manufacturing at nanoComposix will allow for rapid optimization and commercialization of this technology. 

Gold nanoparticles from nanoComposix have extraordinary properties at the nanoscale that are enabling a wave of innovative commercial products. Many of these new applications are in the field of bio-nanotechnology, diagnostics and therapeutics. The products can be manufactured at nanoComposix under cGMP guidelines which are required for many life-science diagnostic and therapeutic product uses.

About nanoComposix

We are a San Diego, California company that fabricates nanomaterials with an unprecedented level of quality and control. Our multi-disciplinary technical teams utilize a proprietary nanoscale tool-kit to develop custom nanomaterials for commercial, academic and government clients for biotechnology, electronics, material science, defense and aerospace applications. Through the establishment of open and collaborative relationships, we rapidly generate innovative solutions to our clients’ most challenging R&D problems. nanoComposix markets their products directly and through distributors and licensing partners worldwide.

This research is supported by the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R41OD024430. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Elizabeth Ward
nanoComposix, Inc.
4878 Ronson Ct, Ste K
San Diego, CA 92111

Tel: +1 (858) 565-4227
Fax: +1 (619) 330-2556

June 07, 2017
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