Tis 26 sep / År 41 / Nr 3 2023

Kromnigon takes multi-colour microscopy to a new level

A company based on innovative thinking can be a real game-changer. The founders of Kromnigon have worked with existing technologies and made important upgrades and modifications to create all new possibilities in multi-colour microscopy. This will for example benefit the development of immunotherapy treatments.

Per Fogelstrand, CEO and Co-founder, Kromnigon AB

Microscopy is a proven technique that has been around for a long time due to its ability to visualize location of cells in tissues. To distinguish between different types of cells in the same tissue sample, the cells need to be stained in different colours using multi-colour microscopy technology.

However, multi-colour microscopy is limited due to technical difficulties in the staining procedure, as well as limitations of microscopes to separate enough colours. Researchers Per Fogelstrand and Ulf Yrlid wanted to meet that challenge, and developed new techniques that makes multi-colour microscopy more efficient and accessible to scientists at universities and pharma.

Personalize immunotherapies by spatial analyses

In recent years, completely new cancer treatments have been developed, especially after the Nobel Prize in 2018, which awarded immunotherapy against cancer. Put simply, immunotherapy unleashes our own immune system to attack cancer cells. However, these treatments are only effective in about a third of the patients. This has emphasized the need for improved histological analyses of tumour biopsies to predict the best treatment option for each patient.

“You want to detect immune cells, their subset identity as well as their proximity to the cancer cells at the same time. This requires labelling of cells with many different colours, and a microscope that can separate the colours”, Kromnigon CEO Per Fogelstrand explains, and continues:

 “Besides the cancer field, we also see a rapid increase in the need of advanced multi-colour microscopy in other fields of research and drug development, such as inflammatory diseases.”

Two empowering technologies

Kromnigon has developed two technologies; StreptaClick, which makes it very easy to multi-stain cells in tissues, and SpectraSplit, which is a set of optical filters for microscopes that allow direct and clear visualization of the stained cell types. Together these techniques enable customers to generate much more information from each tissue sample.

The first products from Kromnigon were launched just over a year ago. What is particularly exciting about StreptaClick-colour is that Kromnigon has taken a well-known molecule in biochemistry, streptavidin, modified it and used it in a completely new way for multi-staining of cells.

“We are currently developing StreptaClick products with even brighter colour signals. We also see a potential for this technology in other methods beyond microscopy”, says Fogelstrand.

Kromnigon was developed out of academia and is today run from the BioVentureHub at AstraZeneca. The company consists of a growing team of experts in various fields. A protein chemist was recently hired and a business developer dedicated to marketing and sales is being recruited.