By Kevin Wang & Kaspar Mossman
Anyone who’s had a blood draw as a patient – in short, everyone – knows that what the doctor gets to work with is a basic count of red and white blood cells. But there’s so much information that we’re missing, which could help inform and develop much more precise treatment. Daniel Georgiev and Sampling Human (“Sampling”) want to solve this problem. Their solution: using biology to analyze biology.
“In today’s day and age, our ability to measure and analyze biology at the cellular level actually remains very limited,” Daniel says. “We still use microscopes, look at glass slides—it’s the same idea. But that’s not how nature works. Nature uses biology to analyze biology, and that’s very powerful because it works in a distributed way. It scales really well.”
Sampling Human, which Daniel co-founded in 2016 in the Czech Republic, is developing a bioparticle-based single-cell analysis platform that significantly increases the detail measured from samples. The bioparticles home in on sample cells, binding to their surface molecules similar to antibodies. Once bound to a cell, the bioparticles respond to key molecular patterns, allowing users to count the targeted cells, measure their RNA, protein levels, and more. At the same time, Sampling’s technology removes the need for expensive equipment and highly trained staff, making sophisticated analysis widely accessible and efficient.
Sampling’s bioparticles are also more sensitive than flow cytometry, which can identify one cell out of ten thousand, Daniel says: his technology can identify one in a million.
How will this impact human health and research? We know life happens at the level of a cell. Sampling will allow doctors and scientists to look at cell biomarkers with ease. Their patented next-gen bioparticles can precisely measure your cells so that treatments are custom-tailored to your body. They are reimagining the dream of truly personalized medicine.
Now heading to market, Daniel envisions multiple paths. Sampling could license their technology to companies like diagnostic CROs or big pharma companies with expertise in developing regulated products. Or they could go directly to doctors and researchers with co-marketing and distribution partnerships. Sampling’s market strategy is inspired by Daniel’s deep experience in synthetic biology.
As a young professor, Daniel introduced synthetic biology to the Czech Republic. His bioparticle engineering lab was conveniently located between the Charles University Biomedical Center and Bioptic Laboratories, world-renowned institutes in the field of life sciences and pathology. Daniel noticed a striking disconnect, “Scientists measure the most intricate nuances of cell biology, but this wealth of information is never fathomed by doctors, patients and many researchers because it is too costly and difficult to obtain.”
This predicament inspired Daniel’s lab. They realized, “Every individual already wields an incredibly powerful diagnostic tool: their own body. Nature’s remarkable scalability enables the monitoring of trillions of cells in billions of humans, practically for free.”
In 2016, Daniel, together with two exceptional scientists Martin Cienciala and Hynek Kasl, co-founded Sampling Human to leverage biological technologies and make highly sensitive health data widely affordable and practical. “At Sampling Human,” he says, “our goal is to develop a platform that efficiently assesses health data by emulating the efficiency of our own bodies. We seek to leapfrog expensive instruments, enabling doctors to predict the health trajectories of millions of cells as easily as they currently predict cholesterol levels.” Daniel envisions individuals checking in on their bodies much like they check the list of active apps on their smartphone. “We are all different, the key is knowing what foods, drugs, chemicals, and activities turn your body against itself and which help your body regenerate.”
He looks forward to expanding the technologies Sampling Human nurtured in Central Europe. “We could have greatly benefited from a facility like Bakar Labs during the early stages of our company. The entrepreneurial infrastructure here is exceptional. It is the birthplace and scaling ground for groundbreaking platform technologies.” Sampling Human embodies Daniel’s vision of bringing together the best of both continents. “I want to give American scientists and entrepreneurs an opportunity to benefit from our company culture in Prague. Similarly, I want our team in Prague to absorb the entrepreneurial spirit of the San Francisco Bay Area.”
Daniel is excited about what’s ahead for Sampling Human, especially its applications. “Drug discovery is one of the applications that can really benefit from single-cell data,” he says. “And our Reproducibility Project demonstrates the ease of adoption for this technology by crowd-sourcing data collection from completely naive users.”
Having recently joined us as a new tenant, Daniel also shares why he thinks Bakar Labs is special. “When you get Bakar Labs, you get the energy of this part of the world,” he says. “You get the energy of Berkeley, the energy of the university, but also the city, the community. It’s that kind of atmosphere that really then trickles down to the energy level of your team.”