Ravata Solutions, a biotech company in the Bay Area co-founded by Arshia Firouzi and Gurkern Sufi, is changing how scientists genetically engineer their experimental models. Ravata’s technology is 100 times faster and 10 times more efficient than standard techniques.
Ravata uses microfluidics and electronics to knock-out genes or manipulate DNA. They have created a chip with thirty wells that each trap a single embryo. They then use electric fields to open pores in the cell membrane so that gene editing tools like CRISPR can enter the cell and alter the DNA.
They have partnered with the UC Davis Mouse Biology Program to create 17 transgenic mouse lines with 90% efficiency and 95% viability. This is an astounding result because current methods, where scientists microinject embryos by hand to create new transgenic animal models, has an efficiency of less than 10%.
The UC Davis Mouse Biology Program is now Ravata’s first customer and will be using the technology to contribute to the Knockout Mouse Project, an international scientific collaboration with the goal of phenotyping the entire mouse genome to provide a database of gene function for medical researchers.
Ravata is in talks with several other partners including UCSF, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Texas Heart Institute.
This work has been done with pre-seed funding from IndieBio and SOSV. Ravata is currently raising a full seed round now. They will use this money to launch their mouse embryo-engineering product and start testing in other embryo types. “With a small modification, the chip can be applied to other animals,” Ravata’s CEO, Arshia Firouzi said. “The R&D risk is not in the product itself but in how other embryo types react. As a hardware developer, that is reassuring.”
Once Ravata has closed their funding round, they will be looking to hire a Sales Director and an engineer for product development. If you are interested in working for Ravata, you can contact Arshia and Gurkern through their website.