Cardea Bio, a biotech company integrating molecular biology with semiconductor electronics, has signed a commercial partnership with Scentian Bio. Scentian is an expert in synthetic insect odorant receptors (iORs), one of nature’s ways of detecting and interpreting smells.
The partnership will enable Scentian to use a customized Cardean chipset, built with graphene-based biology-gated transistors, which will allow Scentian to manufacture a bio-electronic tongue/nose tech platform.
Across the food supply chain, flavor and fragrance quality control currently relies on legacy methods, including so-called “taste testers” or slow, bulky, expensive lab instruments. Cardea and Scentian’s partnership will produce a “bio-electronic tongue/nose” that speeds up testing, that is small enough to fit in a handheld device, and that is simple enough to use anywhere by anyone.
“More than 30 years of combined scientific diligence are going into what we are building with Cardea,” said Dr. Andrew Králíček, Chief Technology Officer at Scentian Bio. “The combination of Cardea’s technology with our insect odorant receptors enables us to translate the language of chemical compounds into digital signals to analyze food components, detect airborne and liquid-based toxins, and diagnose disease in almost real-time on a massive scale.”
Every flavor and fragrance has a unique combination of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be read by the system. Scentian’s platform will house 40-50 receptors and will be able to detect thousands of chemical signals at the push of a button.
With the support of Cardea, Scentian plans to expand its offerings to broader food quality testing, as well as animal and human disease diagnostics. This collaboration aims to resolve the challenges associated with standard detection methods, which are typically slow and expensive, as they can only be run with the help of complex scientific personnel, laboratories, and techniques. Further product generations will include developing next-generation diagnostic tools that could bypass complex chemical assays and detect the presence of diseases based on their distinctive VOC profiles from, for example, a patient’s breath.
“Our Cardean chipsets enable Scentian to mass-produce a new generation of products that can livestream liquid and airborne biological signals,” said Michael Heltzen, Chief Executive Officer at Cardea. “It is fascinating to see the world class team at Scentian make synthetic insect odor receptors and integrate them with our technology, so that together, we can link smells and tastes up to the digital world. The idea of electronic noses that are based on biological receptors has been dreamed and theorized for generations, but now we have them running in our labs thanks to this innovation partnership, which we are truly thankful and happy about.”