Two Pore Guys (2PG) has closed $24.5 million in Series A financing, which the company says will be used to scale up manufacturing of its hand-held, point-of-use testing system, expand its executive team, and advance its two-pore technology for whole genome sequencing and genome mapping.
The system consists of a battery-operated reader device, disposable test strips containing reagents, and solid-state nanopore chips that detect individual molecules, one by one. The devices transmit data wirelessly to authorized systems and cloud infrastructures—which according to the company will enable future uses that include telemedicine, clinical trials for new drugs, and global tracking of pathogens and diseases.
2PG says its testing system is as accurate as medical lab equipment, but as inexpensive and easy to use as a blood glucose monitor. Target uses for the testing system include human and animal diagnostics, agriculture, food safety testing, environmental monitoring, regulatory, and defense.
On January 6, 2PG announced a collaboration with oncologists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to evaluate the nanopore-based platform in detecting cell-free, circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) from patient liquid biopsies. The study, conducted by Andrew Ko, MD, will focus on detecting the KRAS G12D mutation among ctDNAs obtained from patient blood and urine samples.
“Since we formally introduced the company a few months ago and announced our first clinical liquid biopsy study with [UCSF], we have received overwhelming interest,” Dan Heller, 2PG’s CEO, said in a statement.
Heller was previously executive director of UC Santa Cruz’s (UCSC) Center for Entrepreneurship (C4E), which he founded in 2010. That year, he also met William (Bill) Dunbar, then a professor at UCSC’s Baskin School of Engineering, where he first worked in control theory before switching to nanopore research.
Dunbar developed the technology behind the foundational science applied by 2PG. That two-pore technology grew out of Dunbar’s work with colleagues at UCSC as they attempted to perfect a new method of using single-pore technology to perform genome sequencing.
Using his knowledge of feedback control theory, Dunbar wanted to figure out a way to separate the sensor from the actuator, allowing for feedback control of the DNA during sensing—in effect, to regulate the DNA speed without interfering with the sensing mechanism. Dunbar tackled the problem by trying two pores: One pore drives the DNA, while the other pore conducts measurements.
A year later, Dunbar joined Heller to launch 2PG as a spinout of UCSC via C4E, with the initial aim of licensing a patent for two-port technology; Dunbar is now the company’s CTO.
2PG said it has begun collaborating with companies across “multiple” undisclosed markets that plan to develop tests for the platform—a business model similar to that of smartphones. Third-party developers will create assays to detect a given molecule, or adapt for 2PG’s platform existing tests designed for traditional centralized lab equipment.
The result, says the company, is a potentially unlimited menu of high-sensitivity tests reaching the market. 2PG will manufacture the reader devices and test strips that incorporate the reagents from a partner’s assays, which will be sold through master distributors.
“With 2PG's platform, a new diagnostics business model is born,” said Vinod Khosla, whose Khosla Ventures led the Series A round. “With the democratization of diagnostics enabled by this platform, we can imagine entire bio-incubator operations and big data analyses based on 2PG’s technology, opening the doors to a new world of real-time precision medicine.”