Mar 15, 2020

Our Investment in nplex

In 2003, it cost $2.7B to sequence the human genome. Thanks to next-generation sequencing technologies, the cost has dropped dramatically since, falling below $100 as of February 2020. Our newfound ability to efficiently “read” DNA has powered many of the recent advances we have witnessed in biotechnology, diagnostics, and medicine.

Alex Iskold

However, DNA is only the blueprint - proteins are the definitive actors in biology.

In most cases, DNA can only indicate the potential for disease. Meanwhile, proteins can indicate when disease occurs, how it progresses, and whether treatments are effective.

Unsurprisingly, protein tests are entrenched in healthcare, with 40% of clinical tests relying on protein measurements to diagnose, monitor and treat disease. Protein measurements are also heavily used in pharmaceutical R&D, for example to screen for new drugs, predict drug toxicity, and recruit for clinical trials, among other applications.

Despite their importance, currently available protein measurement tools are limited by some severe trade-offs. If DNA sequencing has taught us anything, it’s that we need technologies capable of generating heaps of relevant biological data cost-efficiently, which then enables us to look at population-wide information. Unfortunately, current protein measurement technologies have not been able to achieve this.

While there are thousands of important proteins circulating in the blood, today we can only measure proteins one-at-a-time at a population-wide level. Imagine what could be achieved in drug discovery, diagnostics, and basic life science research if we could measure proteins as cheaply and effectively as DNA.

Enter nplex, a company working to make the simultaneous analysis of all proteins as scalable as it is for DNA.

nplex is scaling the gold standard technology from measuring one protein-at-a-time (aka single-plex), to massively parallel measurements of many proteins (n-plex), with no theoretical bound.

Their technology also checks all the boxes for broad adoption: scalable, affordable, and accurate. Thanks to this, nplex’s technology is already in early beta use with a top 10 pharmaceutical company who is evaluating the deployment within several stages of their drug discovery programs.

nplex spun-out from McGill University in Montreal and is the brain-child of David Juncker, Professor of Biological and Biomedical Engineering, and Dr. Milad Dagher, nplex’s CEO. Together, they developed nanotechnology and computational tools that overcome the technical and economic barriers that have so far prevented the scaling of protein measurements.

The resulting platform that nplex has developed is a deceptively simple detection kit, complemented by software, that can plug seamlessly into modern high-throughput biology workflows. The flexibility of the platform makes it directly applicable to drug discovery, diagnostics,  or basic research… essentially any area in biology and medicine where scientists are looking to leverage protein data.

Like any breakthrough, nplex's vision will take hard work and funding to accomplish. To this end, 2048 ventures is humbled by the chance to work with Milad, David, and the rest of the nplex team and to have led their pre-seed round. We are also excited to be joined by our partners First Star, Real Ventures, Box One Ventures, and Y-combinator.

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