RainDance Technologies is developing new “liquid biopsy” systems using tiny droplets separated by oil to analyze DNA. Researchers using the technology can see whether the samples may contain cancer, viruses, pathogens and markers released by the immune system.
The new tools could allow doctors to test tumors and cancer cells with a simple needle prick. RainDance, which is based in Billerica, Mass, just received a new $16.5 million round of financing from a group of investors including GE’s venture capital arm, GE Ventures.
Alex de Winter, who invests in clinical diagnostics startups at GE Ventures, says that each droplet becomes a miniature bioreactor that can amplify target DNA inside a RainDance analyzer.
De Winter says that instead of sequencing the whole genome, the droplets allow researchers to focus only on the relevant pre-identified genes, or as little as 1 percent of the sample. “You don’t waste time and you don’t waste sequencing power,” de Winter says.