Izon Science today launched
the world's first commercial nanopore platform. The qViro and qNano instruments,
used in many different research markets, allow customers to achieve the scientific
evidence they require from the ability to measure individual particles down
to molecular size.
Izon’s instruments use a tiny hole, called a nanopore to detect and measure
particles as they pass through the hole. The Izon nanopores are made in a flexible
membrane and can be opened and closed and finely tuned while in use. The use
of flexible nanopores is the basis of Izon’s patents and technology.
Izon has developed these low cost, highly effective instruments and the nanopores
over a 4 year period. Different researchers have spent hundreds of millions
of dollars on nanopore research around the world, but this is the first measurement
system using nanopores on the market.
The system is aimed at researchers in virology, vaccinology, gene therapy,
medicine, chemistry and nanoscience. Extensive use in research markets is expected
to evolve into routine high volume testing in areas such as virus detection,
environmental monitoring and industrial quality assurance. The qViro and qNano
instruments can be used in a wide range of research environments including laboratories,
clinics and in the field.
“The launch is the culmination of a very extensive R&D programme
and is a real breakthrough for our research customers. We’ve built a robust
and portable device, powered through a USB port, that can detect and control
single particles at the nano-scale. It’s a world first that we’re
very proud of”, says Hans van der Voorn, Executive Chairman, Izon.
The first commercial releases of the qViro and qNano feature a next generation
virus counter and instrument for nanoparticle analysis. The instruments allow
users to very accurately determine particle concentration in tiny sample volumes
of fluid. They measure electric current through the nanopore to an accuracy
of 2 trillionths of an Ampere (picoAmps) and can take up to 100,000 readings
a second. These advancements also allow details of nanoparticle shape to be
recorded to assist with analysis and identification.
The launch function held at NZi3, the National ICT Innovation Institute based
at the University of Canterbury, was attended by Minister of Research, Science
and Technology Hon Dr Wayne Mapp, Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker and business,
science and education leaders from around New Zealand.
Izon, formed in 2005, has 20 staff and is growing rapidly as it responds to
the interest in its technology. The company sells its instrument systems and
nanopores to research organisations around the world. Beta versions are in use
in ten countries including Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Taiwan, Denmark, United
Kingdom, USA and Belgium. Each instrument sale is supported by the ongoing supply
of the flexible nanopores themselves, which are reusable but need to be regularly
Izon’s intensive R&D programme will continue as new potential uses
for the technology are identified in different markets. The company recently
received $500,000 funding to assist with the development of new technologies
from TechNZ, the business investment programme of the Foundation for Research,
Science and Technology. This will include the development of a pressurised system
that will give users the ability to apply pressure as well as an electrical
charge to samples to increase the capability of the technology.
Izon has a number of collaborations underway with partners around the world
using its technology to break new ground. Researchers at the National Centre
for Biosecurity and Infectious Disease, for example, are carrying out influenza
virus research, the National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
in Japan is researching nanoparticle sizing and Victoria University is using
it to study the viral load on coral reefs.
Izon’s strong base of local research partners includes Industrial Research
Limited, the MacDiarmid Institute, the University of Auckland, the University
of Canterbury, ESR, NIWA, Cawthron, Victoria University and the National Centre
“We actively support New Zealand science”, says Mr van der Voorn.
“We’ve formed a number of research partnerships here as the science
is of such a high standard and collectively we can build a body of knowledge
in new research areas that will make a very real difference to the country.”
Izon’s international research partners include MIT, University of Queensland,
National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan,
University of California and Oxford University.