DURHAM – Phitonex, a Duke Univeristy spin-out developing fluorescent labels and instrumentation to advance the fight against disease, has closed on $2 million in new capital and plans to use the funds to commercialize its label technology.

“This commitment not only enables us to scale and take our labels to market but also gives us the chance to expand and accelerate our development of precision molecular-scale optics for various applications in need of high resolution biology,” Chris Dwyer, the firm’s co-founder and chief science officer, said.

Phitonex plans to release NovaFlur test kits this fall and has more label products in the works.


“Guiding Light for High Resolution Biology” is the firm’s marketing pitch.

The company is currently developing two product lines: a suite of extraordinarily bright labels spanning the entire visible spectrum, and a new class of fluorescent labels and instrumentation that together increase the number of simultaneously observable molecular biomarkers by 5-10 times that of existing high channel count systems.

Disease diagnosis and treatment is currently constrained by limitations of the fluorescent labels used to observe molecular biomarkers. They are limited brightness and limited colors.

“Advances in hardware and software have outpaced current dye technology and created a critical need for a rapid increase in high performance fluorescent labels to enable more questions per individual cell. Our Phiton platform and labels meet this opportunity with the right technology, at the right time, and bring new capabilities to extant hardware while lowering the barrier to entry to single cell analysis,”explains Alvin Lebeck, Chairman and co-founder of Phitonex.

Duke spin-out Phitonex closes on $175K debt raise

Here’s how Phitonex describes its technology:

“In life science research and diagnostics, the number of questions per individual cell is the key determining factor whether you can determine clinical efficacy of a life-saving treatment, the potential for a new cure, or the diagnostic ability of a new test. Phitonex has developed a platform that allows for the precise engineering of optical properties to provide high resolution analysis of single cells by high throughput flow cytometry. Their NovaFluor labels immediately unlock a higher number of parameters on current instrumentation and provide unmatched cell population resolution to drive enhanced biological insight.”