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Member Spotlight: Acorn Genetics

Preventative medicine is an essential, yet underrated, aspect of healthcare despite the fact that up to 40% of morbidity and mortality in the US can be prevented.

The first step towards disease prevention lies in uncovering individuals' genetic predispositions. Knowing about a predisposition to breast cancer, for example, can empower a woman to seek more frequent screening, while awareness of a higher risk for CTE can motivate athletes to invest in better protective gear and concussion prevention.

Although at-home genetic testing offers numerous advantages, there are significant gaps in privacy laws that allow DNA results from popular testing kits to be bought, sold, and traded without the customer's consent.

In this mHUB Member Spotlight, learn more about Acorn Genetics and how they're revolutionizing the field by developing scalable, automated, and portable genetic sequencing technology that prioritizes your privacy.

What is the value proposition for Acorn Genetics' AcornLab?

The AcornLab revolutionizes sequencing and unifies DNA extraction, amplification, sequencing, and analysis into one discrete and auto

mated device, creating a more scalable, affordable, and accessible tool for genetic analysis. Without the need for expensive laboratory equipment and technical knowledge, the lab can efficiently run single-sample tests in under 20 minutes, reducing the typical days-to-weeks wait time at 1/500 of the cost of traditional sequencers.

Powerful, automated, and portable sequencing enables researchers and clinicians to more rapidly discover and diagnose, and the affordability of the device enables smaller clinics and labs, especially in low-resource settings, to build the infrastructure needed to meet the growing demand for sequencing tools.

Describe the AcornLab and how it works.

The AcornLab is a fully automated third-generation genetic sequencer that utilizes solid-state nanopore/nanoribbon technology. The device contains five core technologies: A SiNx DNA filter, a continuous flow microPCR chip, a graphene nanopore sequencer, a signal amplification and digitization process, and a machine learning algorithm to generate the genetic sequence within a rapid, affordable, and discrete device. The AcornLab is a long-read, low-throughput device that is portable and can deliver results in under 15 minutes, enabling the device to be decentralized for individual patient screening or low-volume benchtop sequencing.

What makes the AcornLab innovative?

The AcornLab's core innovations work in tandem to automate the entire workflow from library preparation to sequencing in a rapid, portable device. The solid-state nanopore/nanoribbon sequencing chip design reduces the cost of sequencing while providing long-read capabilities to researchers and clinicians, and the automated nature of the device enables widespread, decentralized deployment. Compared to current sequencing platforms, which require highly technical labor and specialized facilities, the AcornLab transforms where and how sequencing is done for more scalable, affordable, and accessible applications.

How has mHUB supported your startup journey?

mHUB has been a critical resource for Acorn Genetics, as our technology exists at the intersection of hard tech and biotechnology. Having prototyping space and equipment including the 3D printers, laser cutters, electronics lab, and a community of entrepreneurs and experts has enabled our team to develop our technology more rapidly. In addition, access to a community of contractors to collaborate with has been critical for our team in the early stages to recruit and utilize the talent in the Chicago area.

What is next for Acorn Genetics?

After closing our $1M pre-seed round this summer, we are now working to complete a 200-sample study, publish our research, and begin pilots with our first customer, the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

Watch Acorn Genetics' member spotlight on mHUB's YouTube channel:

If you are a budding entrepreneur looking for a vast community of innovators, take a tour at mHUB to learn more about the hardtech ecosystem and how you can get involved.