Diepenbeek (Belgium), September 1st, 2020 – FOx Biosystems’ Board of Directors announces the appointment of Thomas van Elzakker as Chief Executive Officer per 1 September 2020. Van Elzakker takes over from company co-founder Filip Delport who takes up the position of Chief Technology Officer to further develop the proprietary FOx FO-SPR technology.
FOx Biosystems was founded in 2017 as a spin-off of the MeBios research group of KU Leuven. In 2020 the company introduced its White Fox 1.0 system to the market, offering real-time, label-free analysis utilizing FOx Biosystems’ revolutionary fiber-optic biosensor technology. This innovative platform increases the efficiency of bio-pharmaceutical research and development and enables its users to generate high quality biomolecular data such as affinity data, kinetic data and concentration measurements. Investors in FOx Biosystems include Heran Partners, LRM and Gemma Frisius Fund KU Leuven.
Van Elzakker comes to FOx Biosystems with an international business management career in MedTech, having worked for corporates Philips and Medtronic as well as Dutch ophthalmology startup i-Optics. His career is characterized by building and growing business initiatives, bringing new products to market, and driving commercial success. Thomas holds an MSc in Applied Computer Science from Leiden University in the Netherlands.
“Filip Delport has done a great job as CEO, developing the technology and building an excellent team. Now that FOx enters a phase of growth and expansion the Board is very happy to welcome Thomas van Elzakker as CEO, he brings complementary experience in scaling-up technical companies and international commercial expertise to the table”, says Katleen Vandersmissen, Chair of the Board of FOx.
For more information: FOx Biosystems NV, firstname.lastname@example.org, +32 11 286 973
About Heran Partners
Heran Partners is a Belgian-based MedTech and Digital Health investment fund. The HERAN HealthTech Fund I focuses on European HealthTech, providing venture & growth capital accompanied by a strong network, expertise and mentorship to startups and scale-ups with an outstanding technology platform and market potential. We strive to have impact. More information: www.heranpartners.com or email@example.com
About Gemma Frisius Fund KU Leuven
Gemma Frisius Fund is a seed capital fund established in 1997 as a joint venture between KU Leuven, KBC Bank and BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity. The fund stimulates the creation and growth of KU Leuven spin-off companies by providing early phase seed capital. The Gemma Frisius Fund combines academic research and technology transfer expertise with financial and investment expertise.
More information: http://lrd.kuleuven.be/en/spinoff/gemma-frisius-fund.
We are happy to deliver and install the White FOx 1.0 Fiber Optic SPR microplate reader at the Fujirebio
Europe labs in Ghent, Belgium.
FO-SPR uses optical fibers for Surface Plasmon Resonance measurements. This unique technology
enables characterization of protein-protein interactions in complex samples with a simple dip and
read, eliminating the need for microfluidics. http://www.foxbiosystems.com/technology1.html
Paul Vandeponseele at Fujirebio Europe says that the unique combination of label free and fast
sensitive assays is a great tool for bio-assay development.
Congratulations to Paul, Mario Denoyette and their colleagues with their new lab tool. We wish you
success with your projects for developing new products. It’s our pleasure to work with this enthusiastic
About Fujirebio Europe N.V.: Fujirebio is a global leader in the field of IVD testing with more than 50
years’ experience in the conception, development, production and worldwide commercialization of
robust IVD products. These span the range from specialized testing to fully automated routine clinical
laboratory testing solutions covering a variety of disease states.
About FOx Biosystems: FOx Biosystems is a spin-off of the University of Leuven, located at the Bioville
campus in Diepenbeek (Hasselt) Belgium. FOx biosystems is specialized in Fiber Optic SPR sensing
offering accessible innovative biomolecular characterisation solutions.
Bernd Peeters recently obtained his PhD in Bioscience Engineering in the research group of Prof. Jeroen Lammertyn (KU Leuven), working on the FOx technology. His research focused on the search for innovative nucleic acid based strategies for FO-SPR biosensor design.
More specifically, he designed different FO-SPR biosensors, enabling detection of:
(i) celery DNA (important allergen which requires continuous tracing in the food industry).
(ii) mobile colistin resistance gene (indicating antimicrobial resistance of certain bacteria, relevant in health care and livestock applications).
Have a look at the website from the KU Leuven for more information regarding Bernd's interesting findings using FO-SPR: https://lnkd.in/dx5aBwb!
Congratulations, Bernd Peeters, for obtaining your PhD!
Today (25/03/2020) an article about FOx Biosystems appeared in the newspaper De Standaard, 'Life Sciences' edition. Read the complete article here (in Dutch):
FOx Biosystems implements eLABJournal to accurately and efficiently manage all generated laboratory research data
The first part of the project focuses on an upgraded version of the current White FOx. The purpose is to build a more robust device with higher throughput, and which can in addition be easily coupled to other existing tools (e.g. liquid handlers, test bioreactors, ...). Next, we will develop generic tests, like the 'host cell protein' assay, which measures the fragment concentration of unwanted by-products during pharmaceutical drug manufacturing. This information is essential for antibody producers to determine the quality of a drug and to follow the efficiency of the production process. With the support of CrossRoads, we will be able to optimize the 'time to result', detection limit, specificity, reproducibility and storage conditions.
This €299 000 project, which is supported for 45% by CrossRoads, started in January of 2020.
FOx Biosystems, in partnering with U Hasselt, receives €48 000 from European Union (Interreg TTD - PPL)
The research group of Prof. Dr. Luc Michiels, head of Immunology – Biochemistry at UHasselt (BIOMED), together with FOx Biosystems as a Project Partner light (PPL), investigates the development of a novel diagnostic method to better evaluate the risk factors of developing CVD. During this project, a new prototype (demonstrator) of SPR optical fibers and measuring robot will be developed, which enables the concentration measurement of specific inflammatory biomarkers in patients with potential risk for CVD. FOx Biosystems will vouch for exchanging data and knowledge within the TTD project.
The project will be supported by Interreg TTD through a public private partnership for €48 000. The optimization of the demonstrator will be accomplished by focusing on three main points: 1) production of the gold coated optical fibers, 2) assurance of immobilization reproducibility of affinity molecules, and 3) demonstration of high sample sensitivity.
FOx Biosystems applied for financial support with a development project focussing on their innovative biosensor technology based on optical fibers. After handing in a detailed project proposal and a thorough screening process, VLAIO decided to provide FOx Biosystems with a grant to stimulate their innovation, transformation and growth.
VLAIO will support FOx Biosystems with €700 000 for their innovative, challenging and realistic development process. This additional budget will be used to upscale and optimize the fiber optic probe manufacturing process, and hire extra employees for bio assay development.
The successful cooperation between FOx Biosystems and Comate turned top biomolecular analysis research into a market-fit product
Next-generation fiber-optic biosensor solution to support bioprocessing quality control at pharma giants
Top-class research too often fails in finding its way to commercialization. FOx Biosystems, a KU Leuven spinoff company, partners with Comate in developing a performant market-ready product. Comate and Unitron collaborated in engineering an automated, medium-throughput analysis solution around the innovative biosensor technology of FOx Biosystems. The initial graphic system renders of Comate helped FOx Biosystems acquire capital for executing the development. FOx Biosystems’ CEO Filip Delport: “The engineers and designers of Comate are really making the difference in developing a technically refined analysis instrument, equipped with our revolutionary optical fiber sensing technology. We rely on Comate in every phase of the development process to maximize our chances for a successful market introduction. Our new biosensor tops existing instruments in speed, ease of use and operational efficiency. These assets are key elements to improve biomolecular interaction analysis across life science industry and research markets.” Just recently, FOx Biosystems additionally secured 4 million euros in capital with the Limburgse investeringsmaatschappij LRM, KU Leuven Gemma Frisius Fund and several biotech investors, to strengthen its development and sales organization. The headquarters of FOx Biosystems will move to Bioville, the life sciences bio incubator in Diepenbeek, Belgium.
A disruptive analysis approach is born
The sophisticated sensor technology for biomolecular interaction analysis originates from research performed at KU Leuven. Based on the doctoral research of Filip Delport, the startup FOx Biosystems was established. Currently, Filip Delport leads the company in the role of CEO.
The R&D results of current users are impressive, particularly in terms of working in ‘dirty’ samples and revealing new information on their biomolecules of interest. FOx Biosystems’ tools can disrupt the development and production of biological antibody-based medicines. Such pharmaceutical drugs are used to treat rheumatoid patients, persons suffering from Crohn’s disease, etc.
From a lab setup to a market-ready product
To bring the expertise of FOx Biosystems to the market, a team supervised by Filip Delport devised an elaborate business plan. FOx Biosystems established a partnership with Comate Design and Engineering to help translate the laboratory analysis setup to a market-ready product.
“As part of our collaboration with FOx Biosystems, we explore the specific needs of pharmaceutical companies and research organizations,” indicates Sander Van den dries, Comate Partner and Director. “We are developing the new biosensor for optimal use and maximal efficiency in realistic settings and focus profoundly on manufacturability.”
Filip Delport, CEO FOx Biosystems: “The collaboration with Comate is built on our belief that its design and engineering specialists are perfectly fit for the challenge. From a realistic viewpoint, it did not make sense to develop the performant analysis machine by ourselves.”
Making the technology tangible and attractive
The Comate specialists started their work after in-depth discussions about FOx Biosystems’ analysis tool and its anticipated use in medicinal development labs and production rooms. Very early on, the designers created a graphic system render which realistically visualizes how the new instrument looks like. “The graphic illustrations of Comate were well received by investors and helped FOx Biosystems secure capital to execute the development of the device,” Delport said.
The technical engineering was executed by Comate in collaboration with Unitron. The project team developed a technically refined instrument that integrates the revolutionary optical fiber biosensing technology into an automated unit. “The solid, yet smooth casing was engineered as a single part using soft plastic molding,” explains Van den dries. “It supports pre-punched connections for faster interior assembly. The first prototype came with stylish status indicator LEDs which support the operation of the instrument.”
Digital bioprocessing quality control
After the user places the disposable sensor box and their samples into the instrument, the optical head picks up the disposable sensor tips and inserts them into the sample. In the optical head, light is emitted and travels through an optical fiber to the sensor tip and is reflected back to a spectrometer. Subsequently, the user sees the response displayed in real time as a wavelength resonance condition at about 600 nm dependent on refractive index close to the fiber optic surface.
Delport: “Thanks to our innovative biosensor technology, the graph shows clear shifts when specific biological interactions occur at the sensor tip. The size and kinetics of the wavelength shifts of the analyzed sample provide insight into specific antibody-related interactions that have taken place.” The gold-coated sensor tip is treated with a chemical solvent to add biological layer(s) on top.
The first customers & next-level developments
Delport says that the biosensor was engineered to handle up to four sensor units and is already in use at three academic institutions. “They mainly employ the white FOx 1.0 device of FOx Biosystems for diagnostic purposes and screening of nanobodies. The value for these customers is increased speed, ease of use, new types of assays and operational efficiency compared to other biomolecular analysis instruments on the market.”
Currently, the development continues and covers technically advanced engineering work to finish manufacturability, regulatory needs, integration with liquid handlers, and performance. Delport: “By adding miniaturized sample holders and the robotized sensor/sample handling, up to 350 samples can be analyzed with record time to result.”
Robust biomolecular analysis at a relentless pace
Comate contributed to the evolution of next-generation part assembly for the sensor optical connector. The 3D printed model has been replaced by two injection molded parts with easy assembly to mount the optical fiber. “Our Comate specialists designed the sensor support head and selected appropriate molding and production partners,” says Van den dries. The new sensor optical connector offers increased sensor centricity and accuracy and is perfectly suited for high-throughput analysis jobs.
An additional advancement entails the customization of the sample holder, for temperature conditioning, shaking of a sample matrix and/or sample plate if needed. “By proactively anticipating problems and proposing alternative solutions,” says Delport, “Comate is able to quickly establish a new instrument version.”
Targeting large, international pharma corporations
Besides strengthening R&D, FOx Biosystems is also extending sales efforts by targeting large pharma corporations. The company is setting up partnerships and collaborations with established pharma suppliers and distributors to make its revolutionary biosensor an integral part of a process or diagnostic solution. Large pharma players see this as a viable offer with reliable delivery and agile support. This approach is more likely to deliver them the assurance they need to adopt the solution in their drug development and production operations.
The biosensor tool of FOx Biosystems nicely fits in the fast-evolving path to a new or updated biological antibody-based medicinal product or process. Delport: “Instead of sending off samples to another division or a third party, the new biosensor can be used for ‘real-time’ at-line measurements across the stages of discovery, development and production. In a clinical diagnostics context, trough monitoring is one of many analysis types that illustrates the wide application reach of our biosensor.”
FOx Biosystems & Comate : A successful partnership
“The biosensor technology of FOx Biosystems has many advantages compared to existing biomolecular analysis instruments”, says Delport. “The ease of use, speed, cost-effectiveness and the minimal time for sample pre-processing, even in complex media, are key assets of our device. Currently, we are setting up a number of feasibility studies with international pharma companies. After completion of these studies, we expect a firm commercial uptake that leads to a solid install base in the pharma industry late 2020.”
“Now that we have progressed far enough toward a successful market introduction, we clearly see the value of our active collaboration with Comate. In every phase of development, the Comate specialists showed an extreme urge for quality, safety, appeal and intuitive use. We are convinced that our joined efforts will contribute to improve biomolecular interaction analysis in the life science industry and research market.”