Interview By Will Soutter
In this "Insights from Industry" interview, Jeremy Warren, CEO of NanoSight, talks to Will Soutter about their unique Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis technique, which has been widely adopted by the research community, and was recently published as an ASTM standard guide.
WS: Please could you give us a brief introduction to NanoSight and the development of the company?
JW: NanoSight was founded in 2003 by current chief technical officer, Dr Bob Carr and investment specialist and chairman, John Knowles. The first sales were made in 2004 with the launch of the Halo product to study nanoparticles in liquids.
2005 saw the launch of the first microscope-based unit, the LM 10. The LM 20 desktop instrument followed in 2006 along with the release of the ground-breaking nanoparticle tracking analysis software, NTA. In 2008, the 100th system was sold while users at Oxford University proved the use of NTA for an early biodiagnostics application – detecting and counting of exosomes.
The NanoSight LM 10 uses a conventional optical microscope platform along with the NTA software to track and characterize individual nanoparticles.
2010 saw the launch of the NS 500 automated platform for NTA coinciding with the first year where the company achieved profitability and started generating cash. 100 peer reviewed papers had now cited NanoSight.
In 2011, NanoSight achieved its 300th sale with more than 200 third party papers now released citing NanoSight. This included a paper showing that NTA multiparameter nanoparticle characterization could achieve almost an order of magnitude below the detection limit of flow cytometry.
This led to rapid growth in research groups looking at exosomes and microvesicles. NanoSight was recognised with a number of industry awards, notably Technology World’s 2011 Business Innovation Award while being recognised by Deloitte as the UK’s fastest growing biotech company in their 2011 Technology Fast 50 rankings.
2012 has been another landmark year for NanoSight. The 500 sales mark was passed along with more than 500 peer reviewed papers. With large numbers of sales in the USA, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, NanoSight won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade.
NTA has received recognition worldwide. In the USA, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) published their E2834 standard defining NTA. In Europe, following the EU definition of nanomaterials (late 2011), the Joint Research Centre put NTA on the map as one of the measurement methods currently available for meeting nanomaterials characterization.
Looking ahead, the future is definitely bright.
WS: What makes NanoSight unique within the nanoparticle characterization field?
JW: NanoSight delivers the world’s most versatile and proven simultaneous particle by particle multi-parameter nanoparticle analysis system in a single instrument.
WS: Can you give us an overview of your Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis technology?
JW: NanoSight’s “Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis” (NTA) detects and visualizes populations of nanoparticles in liquids down to 10 nm, dependent on material, and measures the size of each particle from direct observations of diffusion.
Additionally, NanoSight measures concentration and a fluorescence mode differentiate suitably-labelled particles within complex background suspensions.
Zeta potential measurements are similarly particle-specific. It is this particle-by-particle methodology that takes NTA beyond traditional light scattering and other ensemble techniques in providing high-resolution particle size distributions and validates data with information-rich video files of the particles moving under Brownian motion.
WS: NanoSight's Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis technology is becoming a really popular tool in the research community - what advantages does it provide to scientists?
JW: This simultaneous multiparameter characterization matches the demands of complex biological systems, hence its wide application in development of drug delivery systems, of viral vaccines, and in nanotoxicology.
This real-time data gives insight into the kinetics of protein aggregation and other time
dependent phenomena in a qualitative and quantitative manner.
NanoSight has a growing role in biodiagnostics, being proven in detection and speciation of nanovesicles (exosomes) and microvesicles.
WS: What are the most popular applications of NTA?
JW: The versatility of NTA means that NanoSight sells its products for routine nanoparticle characterization for multiple materials from ceramics and magnetic nanoparticles to proteins and cell debris. The applications focus at present is in the following areas:
Exosomes and microvesicles
General nanomaterials characterization
NanoSight has installed approaching 500 systems worldwide with users including BASF, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Proctor and Gamble, Roche and Unilever together with the most eminent universities and research institutes.
NanoSight’s technology is validated by over 500 third party papers citing NanoSight results and by the ASTM Standard E2834, consolidating NanoSight’s leadership position in nanoparticle characterization.
WS: NTA was recently published as an ASTM standard. What significance does this have for NanoSight and the researchers using the technique?
JW: ASTM E2834 is a standard guide rather than a standard method for using NTA as a particle size distribution measurement of nanomaterials in suspension. It provides an overview and guide to the methodology that should be followed for good practice and as such gives a good starting point for new and existing users of NTA.
Whilst this standard is a milestone, it is also a building block. Many NanoSight users have requested this definition of the technique as they present data in research papers and to regulatory bodies for product approvals and clinical trials. We will now move to provide industry with test methods for specific materials to help lock down SOPs.
The timing of this publication is helpful as the European Commission move to consider methodologies to address the characterization challenges of their recently-published definition of nanomaterials. Here we see a significant role for NTA’s unique nanoparticle counting capability.
The NanoSight NS 500 provides a single platform for comprehensive analysis of nanoparticles from 10 to 1000nm in size.
WS: NanoSight recently won a Queen's Award for Enterprise for International Trade. What does this mean to the company? Have there been any noticeable changes since receiving the award?
JW: Receiving this award has been a significant milestone for the company. It recognises the excellent sales performance in export and comes on the back of many other prestigious awards in the past twelve months, notably the Technology World 2011 Business Innovation Award presented by Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and President of the Board of Trade, and after being named the UK’s fastest growing biotechnology company by Deloitte.
NanoSight’s export position has been strengthened during 2012 with the appointment of direct sales teams in France and Germany to give closer on-territory support to the expanding user communities in these two important countries. There has also been expansion in our largest market in the last twelve months with additional sales and technical support staff appointed so we have full geographical coverage in North America.
WS: Where can people find out more about NanoSight?
JW: First port of call should be the NanoSight web site, www.nanosight.com, which is continually being updated with news of where the company is participating in conferences and exhibitions around the world.
There is also a vast bibliography section showing all the papers citing NTA and NanoSight. This list now stands well over 500 titles from peer-reviewed literature. For those now participating in social media, you can also join our communities using Facebook and Twitter.