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CRISPR-Chip Makers Cardea Bio, Nanosens Agree to Merge

NEW YORK – Cardea Bio and Nanosens Innovations — the companies that teamed up to develop a CRISPR-Cas9-based biosensor diagnostic device using a graphene transistor called the CRISPR-Chip — announced today that they are merging.

Nanosens will become a subsidiary of Cardea, and the companies plan to sell CRISPR-Chip technology-based products under the Nanosens brand. Kiana Aran — an assistant professor and principal investigator at the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences, and cofounder of Nanosens — will join Cardea as chief science officer.

Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. The closing of the proposed merger is subject to stockholder approval and customary closing conditions.

The companies made a splash earlier this year when they announced they had developed a CRISPR-based diagnostic chip that could analyze DNA in its native state, without the need for amplification, labeling, or optical instruments. The graphene-based chips are able to quickly signal whether or not a specific mutation, protein, or other component is present, according to Cardea CEO Michael Heltzen.

Cardea is looking to develop a line of CRISPR-Chip-based products that would have uses as disease diagnostics, agricultural tools, and even research tools to validate the efficiency and specificity of other CRISPR-based technologies.

Concurrent with the merger announcement, Cardea also said it has launched an early-access program for its first CRISPR-Chip-based product under the Nanosens brand, the Genome Sensor. Users will be able to program the sensor with single guide RNAs in order to search unamplified genomes for diagnostic, research, or R&D purposes.