The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is funding a project by researchers at the Faculty of Biology as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (IAF) with its EXIST start-up scholarship. Starting January 1, 2018, the start-up „OptoFlow“ will receive nearly 140,000 euros for developing a process that will allow for more precise measurements and analysis of communication that occurs within a body cell. These efforts will open up new markets in the areas of biotech and medical research in particular.
First and foremost, OptoFlow wants to ensure that the areas of optogenetics and flow cytometry can work together. Optogenetics means a method with which the communication within a cell can be manipulated through light signals. Such communication is essential for proper bodily functions and are impaired by autoimmune diseases as well as cardiovascular disorders or cancer. In order to be able to develop effective treatments, researchers are trying to properly understand these communication networks with the help of optogenetics. Up to this point, hardly any appropriate light exposure apparatuses have been developed for it.
OptoFlow has now developed the “LED Thermo Flow“, a specialized attachment to efficiently analyze optogenetic effects inside a cell with the help of a flow cytometer. Flow cytometry is considered one of the most important measuring methods in biological research today. It can determine the characteristics of thousands of cells within seconds. OptoFlow hopes to establish the LED Thermo Flow with its combination of optogenetics and flow cytometry in public and then later in commercial research institutions, thereby opening up new markets.
OptoFlow received particular support through the technology working group at the Institute of Biology III that was involved in constructing the very first prototype. In addition, the Entrepreneurial Office at the University of Freiburg, which advises scientists with forward-thinking ideas, also offered its support to the team.
BMWi seeks to help ease company founders’ entrepreneurial efforts with its funding program EXIST. Students, graduates as well as scientists from universities and other non-academic research institutions are eligible for funding.
The Entrepreneurial Office website at the University of Freiburg
The „LED Thermo Flow“ helps analyze optically driven processes inside a body cell.
Photo: Jürgen Gocke