Biochips

Biochips are “miniaturized laboratories” that can run biochemical reactions e.g. for medical diagnostic: For this article, we wanted to know: What kinds of diagnostics can biochips do?  I.e. what diseases can biochips diagnose?

Who are innovative small companies in this field?

 

What diseases can biochips diagnose?

In order to address the first question, we simply searched for biochip* (the wildcard finds “biochip” but also “biochips”, for instance).  For our purposes here, we focused on developments since beginning 2014.  In other words, we wanted to know what diseases have been in focus in the context of biochips since beginning 2014. You can see the result in the screenshot below (you can click on the screenshot in order to see a full-size version):

biochips-diseases-time-chart

You can see that all we did was search for biochip*, then narrow down our time span to 01 Jan 2014 – now, and then grouped our results by time.  The disease terms were detected by mergeflow.  The disease recognition algorithm in mergeflow recognizes MeSH terms, i.e. “medical subject headings” from PubMed (cf. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mesh).

Who are innovative small companies in the field?

In order to find innovative small companies, we first took the disease names identified by mergeflow in the context of biochips.  We combined the top 20 of these names into a logical-OR-filter, which we combined with biochip* with logical AND.  In other words, we were searching for biochip* AND (cancer OR infection OR…).

Then we filtered down to results from https://www.sbir.gov/.  SBIR stands for Small Business Innovation Research, a US federal research funding program for small, R&D oriented companies.  mergeflow identified company names in SBIR funding project descriptions.  We used an interactive heatmap display to cross-correlate these company names with the disease names which we identified in our first step above:

sbir-biochip-companies-heatmap

Most of these companies are no “household names” (at least not to us).  However, all these companies passed the hurdles of obtaining an SBIR grant (which is quite competitive).  This is what we think makes these companies interesting in our context (although the reverse certainly does not hold — not having an SBIR grant does not mean you are not innovative).