04 Dec 2017
Canadian firm’s ‘ThromboLUX’ product uses laser scattering technique to characterize blood platelets.
LightIntegra Technology, a Vancouver, Canada, company that has developed a light-scattering technique for measuring platelets in blood, says it has raised $3.5 million from its existing shareholder base.
The firm’s “ThromboLUX” product line, which is based around a laser source and a single-photon counting module, employs dynamic light scattering (DLS) to measure platelet quality – with the diagnostic equipment said to reduce the need for blood transfusions in cancer patients, for whom reduced platelet levels can be dangerous.
LightIntegra CEO Bill Dubiel said: “This funding will help LightIntegra advance its commercialization efforts in the US, and serves as a positive indication of the company's shareholder support. The financing allows our company to generate working capital while maintaining its existing ownership structure.”
According to the Vancouver firm’s web site, LightIntegra launched the ThromboLUX in the US market earlier this year. It uses the principle of DLS to determine the size and distribution of particles in a platelet sample.
Platelets play a key role in blood, clumping together to form clots, stop bleeding, and help initiate the healing process. A low platelet count, known as “thrombocytopenia”, can lead to severe blood loss and may even be fatal in some circumstances. The condition can be caused by drugs, or result from medical conditions including leukaemia.
Accurate characterization of the level of activity in platelets from blood donors is said to help optimize treatment, which is usually administered via a drip.
To do that, ThromboLUX takes scattering measurements at different sample temperatures, while LightIntegra’s proprietary algorithm calculates platelet size distribution.
Conventionally, samples would be taken from a platelet concentrate and analyzed using automated cell counters to determine the platelet count. But according to LightIntegra, the traditional platelet count method does not address sample heterogeneity, or the viability or functionality of the platelets.
“The presence of microparticles is an indicator of platelet viability,” says the firm, explaining on its web site that these are fragments typically between 100 nm and 1 µm in diameter, shed from platelets in response to various sources of stress and stimulation. A lower microparticle content in a sample suggests that the platelets have not previously been stressed, are intact and have not broken down.
Platelets also respond to temperature variation, and when cooled they are said to “activate” to extend pseudopods - radial tentacles emanating from the cell - and form micro-aggregates. Functional platelets will activate readily when heated or cooled, whereas non-functional platelets will not respond to temperature stress.
“The overall characterization of the platelet sample can therefore be determined by considering the platelet count, the temperature response of the platelets, and the ratio of microparticles to platelets,” LightIntegra states.
In cancer patients transfusions are used to raise platelet counts reduced by both the disease and its treatment, thereby lowering the risk of bleeding. LightIntegra estimates that about 75 per cent of platelet products are used as an adjunct to cancer treatment.
The company was founded in 2008 by current CTO Elisabeth Maurer, who also holds a research position at the University of British Columbia.
In the YouTube video below, posted by Domain of Science, Maurer explains how the ThromboLUX laser scattering kit is able to measure the greater motion of activated microparticles, detected as a slightly greater wavelength shift that is analogous to the Doppler Effect.
LightIntegra appointed Dubiel as CEO in March 2017. The executive, who joined from Personal Genome Diagnostics and previously worked at pharma giants Bayer and Roche, said at the time:
“LightIntegra has developed a unique testing system that improves quality of care, enhances productivity and lowers the cost of healthcare.”
Domain of Science video: Using Lasers to Improve Blood Transfusions - Blood Platelets: