Biodesy Receives Frost & Sullivan’s Technology Innovation Leadership Award

Excerpt from Frost & Sullivan Report:


Frost & Sullivan proudly recognizes Biodesy as the recipient of the 2014 Technology Innovation Leadership Award for Protein Analysis. Biodesy, a privately-held company based in South San Francisco, CA, is the developer of a game-changing technology, second-harmonic generation (SHG), for the study of protein conformation changes. Frost & Sullivan’s research confirms that this technology overcomes the limitations and challenges of current techniques, drastically speeding up time-to-results, enabling new real-time data, and achieving a cost-effective alternative to entrenched workflows. Biodesy currently provides early access to its SHG technology through partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and academic researchers and will transition into a product and solution provider with plans to launch its first complete system of instruments and reagents in 2015. Biodesy has already garnered much excitement, netting a $15 million Series A financing round in October 2013 to commercialize its revolutionary technology. For developing a highly innovative, game-changing technology to improve the study of proteins, Biodesy is the ideal recipient of the Frost & Sullivan Technology Innovation Leadership Award for Protein Analysis.

Technology Excellence and Visionary Innovation of Biodesy

Aspirational Ideas

Biodesy Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Joshua Salafsky developed the idea of an optical technique to analyze the conformational changes of proteins real-time in solution. The concept involved shining a laser at proteins attached to special dyes that give off signals as the proteins interact with antibodies or ligands and undergo conformational change. Frost & Sullivan notes that while crystallography and nuclear resonance (NMR) techniques can measure conformational changes, they both have major limitations that keep them from being cost-effective and practical for many protein analysis applications. Frost & Sullivan expects Biodesy to provide a faster, less expensive technique for studying protein conformational changes.

Commitment to Innovation and Creativity

Biodesy’s innovative second-harmonic generation technology was developed through unwavering dedication to bring the technique to fruition over more than a decade of technology development. Working in conjunction with a pharmaceutical company that viewed this technology as a means to significantly improve small molecule drug discovery, Biodesy was finally able to generate breakthrough data.

Second-harmonic generation technology allows detection and real-time tracking of protein conformational change in response to ligand binding stimulation, elucidating the relationship between structure and function. The technology involves labeling the protein of interest with a second-harmonic active dye and immobilizing the protein-dye conjugate onto a surface. A ligand is then introduced to the sample and binds to the protein, affecting the tilt angle of the labeled dye as the protein undergoes a conformational change. The labeled dye gives off a signal intensity specific to its angle relative to the surface normal. The signal, called the SHG intensity, is measured in real-time as the protein undergoes a conformational change in response to ligand binding.

Through ongoing research partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, Biodesy has gained tremendous feedback on potential applications and configurations of the technology. The initial commercial system will contain a high powered laser, an optical interface to transfer light from the laser to the sample, a liquid handling robot compatible with 384-well plates for high throughput applications, and associated reagents and consumables. The first system will be tailored to drug discovery applications in the pharmaceutical community, and is expected to launch in 2015.

Frost & Sullivan’s research notes that until Biodesy’s breakthrough SHG technology, there was no quick, cost-effective, and practical way to study protein conformational changes in high throughput, and no method that captured data in real-time and in solution. Biodesy continues to push the boundaries of innovation, working on the ability to create 3D movies of the proteins to view their movements and changes in real-time. The firm is also planning to expand their product line to serve a range of application and throughput requirements. Biodesy embodies a company highly committed to innovation and pushing the capabilities of its revolutionary technology.

Unmet Needs

The technologies traditionally used to measure protein conformational changes have several limitations overcome by SHG technology. Crystallography is very challenging, expensive, requires large volumes of starting material, can take months to perform, and often fails. It also requires freezing proteins into static structures which may differ from the structures the protein adopts in solution.  Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is another traditional technology used for studying protein structure, but it is also very resource intensive and is limited by protein size. Although NMR is slightly faster than crystallography, the technique is still much lower throughput than Biodesy’s SHG technology. Each of these technologies provides different types of data, but Biodesy believes its technology can ultimately become the primary technique for structural and functional analysis of proteins.

Blue Ocean Strategy

Biodesy’s Blue Ocean Strategy revolves around the unmet needs it is solving with its SHG technology. A high-throughput, fast, and cost-effective means for studying protein conformational changes simply did not exist prior to Biodesy. Frost & Sullivan firmly believes that Biodesy’s initial technology will complement entrenched crystallography and NMR usage in drug discovery applications. As the company further develops the SHG technology and its data output, Frost & Sullivan envisions that the technology will replace the need for these other technologies.

Application Diversity

Biodesy’s technology has already been applied to a wide range of protein targets, such as protein kinases, adenylate kinase, integrins, DHFR, alpha-synuclein, beta amyloid, calmodulin, and membrane associated proteins. Unlike other biophysical techniques, SHG is not limited by protein size or the protein microenvironment, and can therefore be applied to almost almost any molecular interaction. The technology can be used in applications including protein structure and function, protein-protein interactions, protein drug response, drug screening, proteomics applications, and clinical diagnostics. In Frost & Sullivan’s opinion, the ability to conduct these studies in a fraction of the time and expense of competing technologies, all in real-time will make this a truly revolutionary technology for a wide range of applications.


Frost & Sullivan’s independent analysis of the Protein Analysis market clearly shows that Biodesy’s breakthrough second-harmonic generation technology is a market-changing technology that will enable countless discoveries in protein research and improve current workflows. Before Biodesy, there was no quick, cost-effective, and practical way to study protein conformational changes in high throughput, and no method that captured data in real-time. SHG technology provides incredible advantages over existing technologies and is poised for high demand in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies already excited about its capabilities in drug discovery applications. As Biodesy continues to innovate and develop new instruments and applications, the company is well-positioned to provide its technology to the large base of laboratories studying proteins. For developing a revolutionary technology that drastically improves the study of proteins, Based on the results of our research, Frost & Sullivan is pleased to present the 2014 Technology Innovation Leadership Award for Protein Analysis to Biodesy.