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CLAIR provides new insights

The human eye is a fascinating organ as well as model for the specialists at Stockach-based Sensovation AG. Their complex optical detection systems are based on CCD and CMOS technologies. However, a high-tech sensor is able to recognise much more than many eyes put together. Once the samples have been prepared, CLAIR, the Colorimetric Array Imaging Reader, can differentiate between different strains of HPV viruses within a few seconds.

Dr. Hanswilly Müller demonstrating how CLAIR works. © Keller-Ullrich

This information has become much more vital since it was discovered that the human papillomavirus (HPV) is directly involved in the pathogenesis of cervical cancer. There are more than 100 different HPV strains that are divided into high-risk and low-risk groups, of which only around a dozen occur frequently in connection with cancer. Other HPV infections are largely regarded as harmless. The CLAIR detection device, developed by Sensovation in cooperation with a Spanish company, is now able to very quickly differentiate the different HPV strains underlying an infection. The Spanish cooperation partner provides the test substances and Sensovation contributes the state-of-the-art CCD camera technology.

CLAIR can be used for many applications, as it is also capable of differentiating viruses other than HPV. In addition, CLAIR can also be used for the diagnostic assessment of allergies and is even able to solve different issues simultaneously. Many different parameters can be examined in a single sample. For example, in the case of influenza it is possible to determine in a single run whether the patient is suffering from swine flu, bird flu, influenza A or influenza B. Thanks to CLAIR, it is not necessary to carry out an assay for each potential infectious agent.

With regard to allergies, CLAIR determines whether the patient reacts to mites, cat hair, pollen, grass or other antigens in a single sample vial. Previously, the simultaneous determination of allergies was only possible with the patient present. "In vitro" assessments require separate tests to be run for each of the possible allergens.

Human eye as model

The creative brains of Sensovation: (from the left) Stefan Bickert (CEO) and Paul Hing (Technical Director) © Keller-Ullrich

There are 10 x 10 spots on a microplate with 96 wells, giving rise to 9,600 data points per microplate. CLAIR is suitable for the analysis of DNA arrays and protein arrays. Genotyping, which involves the identification of different DNA segments that are specific for the virus strain under investigation, is reliable. A number of molecular biology processes are necessary to visualise these DNA segments.

Identification using a complex camera technology is only part of the entire process, which also includes the reduction and analysis of the acquired data with special software. "Each image point represents analytical information that needs to be processed effectively," said Hanswilly Müller, Marketing Manager at Sensovation. An important pillar of the company is the development of specific software, for which the human eye again serves as model. In the eye, the flood of information is not only transferred unfiltered to the brain, but is already processed and reduced on the retina.

Broad range of applications

Stefan Bickert and Paul Hing founded Sensovation AG in 2000 with the aim of constructing intelligent detectors. Sensovation’s diagnostics devices are all based on optical detection. The devices use an area detector in a similar way to digital cameras or mobile telephones. However, the goal is not to produce a photo, but to carry out analytical tasks. That is why special CCD sensors are used. “The results must be reproducible and accurate, something that is required for highly sensitive detection,” explains Hanswilly Müller.

Besides development, Sensovation also carries out finishing and quality control in its Stockach premises. The company’s clients are mainly manufacturers of complex systems who purchase Sensovation’s cameras, which are an important component of their systems. For example, in collaboration with Roche, Sensovation has developed a small detection module, a so-called hand-held diagnostics device.

Sensovation’s devices are not only used for diagnostics but also in areas such as cancer research. Thanks to the highly sensitive camera technology, the devices can, amongst other things, detect and document fluorescent dyes in live experimental animals (mice). This enables the visualisation of metabolic processes. Sensovation’s technology has the advantage that the sensor is cooled, enabling extremely long exposure times without generating the undesired background noise.

Sensovation’s devices are not only used for basic research and for diagnosis, but can also be used to establish a made-to-measure therapy, for example for patients with certain types of breast cancer. The devices are used to find out whether the cancer cells respond to the planned medical treatment prior to starting the therapy on the patient.

Further information:
Dr. Hanswilly Müller
- Marketing -
Ludwigshafener Str. 29
78333 Stockach
Tel.: +49 (0)7771 8739 0
E-mail: info@sensovation.com

Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/news/clair-provides-new-insights