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Fishing with a Net, Not a Pole: Correlia's Tech Enhances Immunoaffinity Via Electrophoresis

(image courtesy of Correlia Biosystems)


Imagine a fishing competition between two teams—each trying to catch the most fish in the least amount of time. Team 1 is trying to catch fish with a handful of boats and some fishing poles. Everyone loads their bait, drops their poles, and sits to wait for the fish to bite. It's a slow process. 

 

Team 2 has a different approach. They load each boat with a net and then have the boats move through the water. As they troll through the water, they scoop up any fish that come across the path of their net. Team 2 has the clear advantage over Team 1.

 

Correlia Biosystems is an analytical biotech company, not a commercial fishing operation, but they are using the same advantage to make biomolecular testing faster and more effective. 

 

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Samuel Tia from Correlia Biosystems and learn a little about the innovations they are pursuing to combine electrophoresis with microfluidics and immunoaffinity detection to make waves in the biodetection world.

 

From Academic Beginnings to Bold Innovation

Correlia is a UC Berkeley-born startup, founded by a team with a strong academic pedigree. The co-founders, Akwasi Apori (CEO), M. Kursad Araz (CTO), and Samuel Tia (CSO) all hail from the bioengineering lab of Amy Herr.  Correlia's story began a decade ago when the co-founders, exposed to the world of venture capitalism, saw an opportunity to commercialize promising research. Their core technology, initially sponsored by a diagnostics company, became available for licensing after the group that sponsored the project within the parent company dissolved. Recognizing the potential for broader impact, Correlia seized the opportunity.

 

The company initially focused on clinical applications, but their sights are now set on a wider range of scientific endeavors. In 2020, a successful Series A funding round allowed them to bring their first product to market.

 

Correlia's Innovation: Microfluidics Meets Electrophoresis

Correlia's innovation can be compared back to the fishing analogy. Correlia compares traditional immunoassays, such as the ELISA, to the fishing pole method. Capture and detection of an antigen traditionally relies upon passive diffusion to the immunoaffinity surface—much like a fishing pole waiting for the chance encounter of a fish. In contrast, Correlia's capture ligand matrix is combined with sample electrophoresis which allows them to actively move the analytes to the capture sites. In this way, it's comparable to pulling a net through the water. Except in this case, they move analytes while the network of capture sites stay in place.

 


(image courtesy of Correlia Biosystems)


How do they achieve this phenomenon? A combination of microfluidics and electrophoresis make this possible. While the core science behind Correlia's technology isn't entirely novel, its combination and application is what sets them apart. Their microfluidic chip utilizes a capture ligand matrix upon which they can perform electrophoresis. By manipulating buffers and tuning the nanoporous structure, Correlia can actively move analytes back and forth through the matrix network. This allows them to achieve capture and detection at much faster rates than could be achieved with diffusion. The tunability of buffers and matrix allow them to make the technique applicable to a wide range of molecules.

 

Challenges and the Road Ahead

Correlia, like many young startups, faces the challenge of establishing brand awareness in a crowded market dominated by larger corporations. Building relationships and demonstrating the value proposition of their technology are key hurdles. Additionally, expanding their library of assays and reagents remains an ongoing effort.

 

On the manufacturing front, Correlia currently relies on local, California-based production for quality control purposes. However, as they scale up, expanding their operations will be crucial. Looking towards the future, Correlia also sees software development and data analysis as key battlegrounds. Integrating their platform with existing laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and ensuring data security are top priorities.

 

Correlia's Impact: Empowering Scientists and Accelerating Research

Correlia's ultimate goal is to simplify scientists' lives. They envision a future where automation and rapid assays replace tedious pipetting tasks, freeing researchers to focus on creative problem solving and data analysis. Furthermore, their technology allows for more data extraction from smaller samples, which aligns with a growing movement towards reducing animal testing in research and requiring less material from precious samples.

 

By offering a faster, more efficient alternative to traditional immunoassays, Correlia is poised to change the way science can be done. Their innovative approach has the potential to streamline workflows, empower researchers, and ultimately, accelerate scientific discovery. It may even help to give researchers more time to leave the lab, relax, and go fishing.


For more information about Correlia and their work, visit correliabio.com.

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