Hememics Aims to Bring PSoC-Based, 60-Second COVID-19 Tester to Market by Year-End | Cypress Semiconductor
Hememics Aims to Bring PSoC-Based, 60-Second COVID-19 Tester to Market by Year-End
Hememics Biotechnologies, Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., is looking to complete FDA clinical trials on a COVID-19 tester by the end of this year that can detect the presence of the coronavirus disease in 60 seconds.
The product is built on Cypress’ flexible, feature-rich PSoC 63 microcontroller, which is helping Hememics bring its unique and accurate testing capabilities to market quickly.
“We hope to be a bright light in the arsenal of COVID-19 diagnostics,” said John L. Warden, Jr., the company’s CEO.
Hememics’ HemBox™ biosensor system uses carbon-based semiconductors to detect COVID-19-generated antibody-antigen and peptide-to-peptide binding events on its use-once bio chips. When the PSoC device senses a change in circuit impedance, it records the event. Taking the data from an array of 32 sensors per drop of blood, the reader can make a diagnosis that is at least as accurate as a home pregnancy test, and competitive with ELISA, the gold standard for immune-based lab testing.
“We cannot say enough good things about the PSoC 63 device,” Warden said. “It has saved us many PCB spins, and we were able to make numerous changes that, without a robust SoC, would have added many months to our schedule.”
Hememics’ HemBox COVID-19 tester is about the size of two cell phones stacked upon each other. Though there are numerous handheld testers on the market, few can test for more than one of two different antibody types. In addition to COVID-19, the HemBox platform can test for some of the most-common hospital-acquired infections, including E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.
Warden said the HemBox tester uses many of the PSoC device’s on-chip resources, including both OpAmps, analog multiplexing, most of the analog mesh, the DAC, the ADC, both the Arm Cortex®-M4 core and the Arm Cortex-M0+ core, UART, I2C, and SPI, five of nine Serial Communication Blocks (SCBs), half of the Universal Digital Blocks (UDBs), multiple DMA channels and clocks, four of 32 Timer/Counter/Pulse-Width Modulators (TCPWMs) the BLE Radio, and all but 10 of the 78 on-board GPIOs. “The PSoC programmable hardware and dual core has made multiplexing signals a snap!” he added.
According to Warden, the low-power features of PSoC were particularly important to the HemBox design. “We never turn off the PSoC. Instead, it goes to sleep so we can keep the real-time clock ticking, listen for commands via the Bluetooth™ Low Energy radio, record a history of temperatures and wait for interrupts from an accelerometer.”
He added that the power-efficiency of PSoC helps the Hememics device to run for up to four months between charges.
Asked how Cypress’ IoT-AdvantEdge™ strategy has helped in the design process, Warden stated, “We love Cypress’ documentation! For the first few years, we did not expect to get any attention from an FAE. We had no money and were working in our basements. Planning a go-it-alone strategy, we chose an SoC with the best documentation – Cypress. We also love the training videos. They’ve been extremely helpful.”
For more information about Cypress’ PSoC 6 microcontrollers, please visit: www.cypress.com/psoc6.
Hememics software engineers, Alex Pratte (standing) and Carl Brando (sitting).