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Home > Interviews > Eric Henderson - June 2002

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Eric Henderson Interview 06.26.2002

The following is an interview with Eric Henderson, Founder, Chief Scientific Officer, and Chairman of the Board for BioForce Nanosciences, Inc.

Eric Henderson, Ph.D. is the founder, Chief Scientific Officer, and Chairman of the Board. Dr. Henderson founded the Company in 1994 while serving as a Professor of Zoology and Genetics at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Dr. Henderson has been deeply involved with the field of Atomic Force Microscopy since the first commercial instruments became available in 1989. He has pioneered the development of many biological applications of AFM, and he is a leading expert in this area, having published over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts and other technical articles. Dr. Henderson's background in areas of atomic force microscopy, telomere molecular biology, and structural biology, in combination with his natural aptitude for instrumentation development, makes him uniquely suited to provide the innovative leadership and scientific vision that will be needed to ensure the ultimate success of the company. Dr. Henderson earned his B.A. in Biology in 1979 and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology in 1984, both from the University of California at Los Angeles.


1. Please tell us about your background, and how you came to be with BioForce Nanosciences.

I have been involved with the field of Atomic Force Microscopy since the first commercial instruments became available in 1989 and have had the good fortune to be involved in some of the pioneering research in the area of biological applications. I have published over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts and other technical articles in areas of atomic force microscopy, telomere molecular biology, and structural biology. I earned my B.A. in Biology in 1979 and Ph.D. in Molecular Biology in 1984, both from the University of California at Los Angeles. The company was founded in 1994 while I was serving as a Professor of Zoology and Genetics at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. The work I was doing at ISU had, in my view, substantial commercial value and I started BioForce in 1994 in an effort to develop the technology and commercialize it as efficiently as possible.

2. Can you tell us about BioForce Nanosciences, the products you are currently working on, and the science behind them?

BioForce Nanosciences, Inc., is the leading developer of nanoarray technology for biomolecular analysis. We have created innovative, proprietary methods and instrumentation for ultra-sensitive, ultra-miniaturized analysis of proteins, nucleic acids, and other biological material. Over $5M in grant and investor funding has been raised to date and we have developed well-respected relationships with key organizations in the scientific community. The company goal is to be the first bionanotechnology business having commercial products with significant revenues.


Nanoarrays utilize approximately 1/10,000th of the surface area occupied by a conventional microarray.

nanoarray
Image Copyright BioForce Nanosciences, Inc.

Comparison of a state-of-the-art microarray spot and NanoArrays of various spot densities. Over 1,500 NanoArray spots can be placed in the area occupied by a single microarray spot.


Our technology is embodied in the NanoPro™ system. The NanoPro™ System for molecular analysis includes the NanoArrayer™, NanoArrays™, and NanoReader™. The NanoArrayer™ embodies proprietary instrumentation and methodology for creating a broad spectrum of NanoArray™-based biological tests. This device places molecules at defined locations on a surface with nanometer spatial resolution. The arrays of molecules, which form the NanoArray™, are unique to BioForce. NanoArrays™ are ultra-miniaturized biological tests with applications in many areas. The Company's first NanoArray™ products are presently being evaluated for commercial utilization by potential users and are targeted toward the proteomics/genomics and diagnostics markets. These products include protein-profiling arrays for diagnosing the presence and extent of disease such as cancer, and a pathogen screening NanoArray™. NanoArray™ chips for other types of protein expression profiling and immunodiagnostics are in the pipeline for near term release. All NanoArray™ tests can be read in a single image by standard optical fluorescence microscopy. However, when desired, alternative read out methods can be employed. One of these is the NanoReader™, an atomic force microscope optimized for NanoArray™ analysis. Benefits of the NanoReader™ include no requirement for secondary reporter systems (i.e., no fluorescence, radioactivity or enzyme conjugates), real-time readout in physiological solution, vast reductions in materials used, and ultra-high sensitivity. Moreover, the NanoReader™ can be further used for obtaining for direct inter- or intra-molecular force measurements.

3. What aspect of your research do you find the most exciting?

I really enjoy treading on unexplored territory and putting things together to create new opportunities. It is both exciting and a privilege to be an active participant in the evolution of the next generation of tools for biomolecular analysis.

4. Where and how do you see NanoArrays™ being used, and what are the advantages over older technology?

NanoArrays™ will revolutionize the biomolecular screening markets just as microarrays did several years ago. NanoArrays™ have similar applications as microarrays do, yet create novel opportunities as well. NanoArray™ technology has a broad range of molecular analysis applications including: protein-protein interaction, immunodiagnostics, nucleic acid analysis, affinity-based biomarker profiling, genome mapping, and pathogen detection. In addition, NanoArrays™ create the opportunity to address important areas for which adequate multiplexed assays do not exist. One such area is single cell analysis. I believe that with this technology we will be able to derive answers to questions from single cells that, even if possible by current methods, would have required thousands of cells and population averaging. Imagine the benefit to a patient who need be subjected only to a throat swab rather than a surgical biopsy for cancer diagnosis! This is just one of the goals that NanoArrays™ aim to achieve.

In the next few years, the novel attributes of NanoArrays™ will create unprecedented opportunities and applications for a variety of industries.

Reprinted with premission. Copyright Nanotechnology Now and BioForce Nanosciences, Inc.

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