SDS Optic was founded in 2013 by Marcin Staniszewski, a graduate of the University of Akron (Akron, OH, USA) and long-time collaborator at NASA Laboratory, and Magdalena Staniszewska, PhD (Professor at the Catholic University of Lublin), a long-time researcher at Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA, USA), Cape Western University (Cleveland, OH, USA), and the Polish Academy of Sciences.
The company’s vision is to help increase survival rates in cancer and other chronic diseases by 30% by the year 2030. SDS Optic creates breakthrough medical technologies using fiber optoelectronics, molecular biology, immunochemistry and modern medical bioengineering techniques. The company designs, develops and commercializes breakthrough devices for in vivo and real-time monitoring and diagnosis of vital processes, with a primary focus on cancer, infectious, bacterial and fungal diseases.
The key technology is a micrometric fiber optic microprobe, which in combination with technical solutions in the field of molecular biology, chemistry and medical bioengineering designed by the founders, makes a globally unique biosensor, capable of making biological measurements of living tissue in the patient’s body (in vivo) with a very high level of sensitivity and specificity. The company’s technology allows to insert the probe into the direct vicinity of the tumor, but without puncturing it or acquiring any tissue from the patient’s body. In this way, it is possible to detect the concentration of a test substance, including tumor markers, with high accuracy using a laser beam. At the end of the several-minute-long examination, the reading on the detector is interpreted with the appropriate conversion algorithm, in the form of a numerical result stating the level of the tested active biological compound. The non-invasive, accurate and fast diagnostic procedure allows for better selection of the targeted treatment. The fiber optic micrometer probe technology will be commercialized under the brand name inPROBE.
Commercialization of technology and growth of the business
In 2013, the company became a member of the Lublin Medicine Cluster and attracted the first investors (investment fund of the Polish Entrepreneurship Foundation in Szczecin and angel investors), which allowed to develop the key technology of fiber optic encapsulation.
In 2015, the company obtained funding from the National Center for Research and Development and began development of a prototype fiber optic biosensor for the diagnosis of cancer biomarkers HER2 and CCL5 in breast cancer and for determining the concentration of the targeted anti-HER2 drug Trastuzumab (Herceptin). The project was carried out between 2015 and 2018 as part of a scientific consortium that included the Medical University of Lublin, the Medical University of Wrocław, and the University of Life Sciences in Lublin, with funding in excess of PLN 10 million.
In 2017, the company received a record-breaking in the history of SME companies in Poland prestigious grant from the European Commission under the SME instrument Horizon 2020, in the amount of almost EUR 4 million, under which development work, clinical trials of the diagnostic microprobe in breast cancer and commercialization and certification processes have been financed. In the same year, the company also obtained support from the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development in the amount of almost PLN 1 million as part of the Go To Brand program, which aimed to promote and build the first contacts in the field of technology commercialization.
In 2017, the INNOventure fund also invested PLN 3 million in SDS Optic. The funds were used to develop the company’s laboratory and prepare the device for clinical trials. In total, the company has raised more than PLN 43 million for the implementation of its projects.
In 2017-2020, the company was awarded many times, including the Women-led Innovation 2020 prize awarded by the European Commission (Innovation Radar Prize). During the same period, the company filed a number of patent applications and registered its trademarks globally.
In 2019, SDS Optic legal form has been changed to a public limited company. In 2020, it formed a special purpose vehicle, FiBioMed sp. z o. o., to develop fiber optic biosensor technology for infectious diseases, including sepsis. For this purpose, the special purpose vehicle has obtained over PLN 10 million from the National Centre for Research and Development.