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Wisconsin’s Rapid Diagnostek gets $1.5M investment for biosensor technology

Rapid Diagnostek is developing a handheld sensor that can be used to detect diseases, bacteria or viruses by sampling a patient’s or animal’s urine, saliva or blood.

HUDSON, Wisconsin — Rapid Diagnostek Inc. has landed a $1.5 million investment led by a Boston venture firm to develop its biological sensor technology.

Rapid Diagnostek is developing an handheld sensor that can be used to detect diseases, bacteria or viruses by sampling a patient’s or animal’s urine, saliva or blood. The investment was led by Boston-based Peak Ridge Capital, which contributed $1 million to the Series B round, said Harry Norris, Rapid Diagnostek’s chief executive.

The company aims to raise $4 million in this round. It closed a Series A round of $1.3 million in 2008.

The device, called the IntelliProbe Immunosensor, generates results in 60 seconds and is capable of electronically sending the data to other devices or locations.

The company hopes to commercialize the device for use in animals in the first half of 2011 and for humans the following year, Norris said. But before that happens, the company needs to achieve several milestones.

First, it needs to “validate the sensor’s design and performance,” Norris said. Next, it needs to “develop a scalable manufacturing process for the sensor.” Additionally, the company hopes to produce a “commercial-grade, cell phone-sized instrument,” Norris said.

Currently, the device is mounted on a 4-inch by 6-inch board. The goal is to get it down to 2 inches by 4 inches, Norris said.

“We have fully demonstrated the capability of the system,” he stressed.

Also, the company plans to perform some field-testing of the device before its release and would be required to obtain 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before it’s OK’d for human use.

Norris said he wasn’t sure whether Rapid Diagnostek would look for a Series C round of funding. Instead, it may prefer to get a cash infusion from a sales and distribution licensing deal. But he wouldn’t rule another venture round out.

“This opportunity is so large, we may want to raise a $15 million round to accelerate commercialization in multiple markets,” Norris said.

Peak Ridge’s chief executive called Rapid Diagnostek’s device “a disruptive technology” that “has the potential to be transformational and to revolutionize the medical testing process,” the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

Rapid Diagnostek was formerly known as Intellignostics Inc. and moved from St. Paul, Minn., to Wisconsin in 2008.

Peak Ridge is based in Boston with offices in Madison, Wis. and Calgary, Canada.