Thermal

Contrast

BioAssay Technology



Dr. Bischof is a founder and the Chief Technology Officer of Vigilant Diagnostics.  This company has an exclusive license to “Thermal Contrast” bio-assay technology (Fig. 1, PCT/US2013/023839) from both the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto where Dr. Bischof’s co-founder and collaborator Dr. Warren Chan is faculty.  This new technology, developed with doctoral student Zhenpeng Qin and many University of Minnesota collaborators including Drs. David Boulware and Taner Akkin, will greatly increase the sensitivity of lateral flow assays (LFA).  LFAs are one of the most common point of care (POC) tests available for diseases and biomarkers.  They are fast, easy to use and cheap with only one notable downside of low sensitivity.  The proprietary Thermal Contrast technology platform leverages basic science insights from laser gold nanoparticle heating that Drs. Chan, Bischof and collaborators have pursued together for many years.  Recognizing that gold is an efficient transducer of laser light to heat, they have shown that lasers can dramatically improve the sensitivity of LFA diagnostics far beyond the visual range (Qin Angewandte 2012). Specifically, by focusing laser light onto the gold nanoparticles in the test line of the LFA, they evoke a heat signature that is used as thermal contrast that increases LFA sensitivity and also gives quantitative information on disease burden or tested protein concentration.  In preliminary testing with his main clinical collaborator Dr. Boulware, Dr. John and other clinical colleagues at the University of Minnesota Bischof has demonstrated an order of magnitude increase in sensitivity in Cryptococcus (Boulware EID 2014), Strep A, malaria and flu LFAs (unpublished results).   This promising technology has the potential to bring increased sensitivity usually only found in laboratory tests (i.e. ELISA) to POC testing for infectious disease, food safety and other biomarker tests.