Nano Med-Lab Shrinks Time and Costs


Shrink a medical lab to the size of a toaster.

Provide test results in minutes, instead of days.

Reduce health-care costs, medical guesswork and indiscriminate use of antibiotics.

Aquila Diagnostic Systems is poised to revolutionize human and animal health-care with its precise and prompt, lab-in-a-box, Domino.

The desktop technology promises to empower doctors, veterinarians and livestock producers with on-site, under-an hour analysis of a subject’s genetic characteristics or infectious illness.

Domino’s pioneering research began at the University of Alberta, supported by a $5 million award from Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions. The research team then created a spinoff company, Aquila, which found commercialization support from Alberta Innovates-Technology Futures.

Alberta wants to build research and commercial capacity in the priority area of nanotechnology. Technology Futures helps achieve this goal through its nanoAlberta team and related programs, nanoBridge and nanoWorks. Aquila received an Innovation Voucher to help fund its intellectual property work. It also received business advice from nanoWorks and in 2012 was awarded the NanoVenture Prize sponsored by Technology Futures. This financial and business support will help Aquila enter the marketplace. The company will first introduce Domino to Alberta’s feedlots, where current livestock testing requires shipping of samples to a distant lab. Aquila’s plan is to prove its technology on livestock, then progress into applications related to human health.


Domino can perform 20 genetic tests from a single drop of blood on a disposable, postage-stamp-sized plastic chip with reaction compartments measuring one-billionth of a litre, or nanolitre, in size.

The technology can detect blood-borne illness, or provide genetic profiling to help determine optimal drug regimens for the treatment of diseases like cancer.

Aquila serves as an example of how Alberta’s innovation system works to guide new and exciting ideas from lab-based research to the marketplace. It is one example of the results being achieved in support of economic diversification in Alberta.