Cantimer’s Web site is still a stub, although it describes the company as “focusing on assessment of human hydration using effective and innovative sensor technology.” Cantimer’s founder and now former CEO, Ray Stewart, is a serial entrepreneur who previously worked as a principle at BayMaterials, a high-tech materials consulting firm. Prior to that, Stewart founded Landec, a developer of “intelligent” polymers that react in specific ways to temperature changes, and prior to that was a scientist at Raychem.
Stewart has also filed a patent application for a “phase change sensor.” Broadly speaking, this is a sort of nanodevice involving an antibody-coated, polymer-based sensor pad and a cantilever arm. Once the antibodies detect a molecule of interest, the polymer expands or contracts, moving the cantilever arm and generating a detectable electric current via a piezoelectric crystal that converts pressure into current. That sort of design would certainly explain Cantimer’s name, which sounds very much like a portmanteau of “cantilever” and “polymer.”
Such nanosensor designs are being studied all over the place — see, for example, our coverage of the U.K. medical-sensor company Vivacta here — so it’s not clear how different Cantimer’s technology might be at this point. Of course, this sort of sensor could have multiple applications just as Cantimer seems to suggest. However, it also appears that Stewart’s patent application may be meeting with resistance at the patent office — see, for instance, the Nov. 13, 2006 “non-final rejection” noted at the Patent and Trademark office site here — although of course it’s also impossible to know if this patent is even the main basis for Cantimer’s technology.
I’m not steeped enough in this field to hazard a guess as to what use this technology might be for “human hydration,” although if it works, there’s no reason it couldn’t be useful for quantifying the presence of water in human blood, tissue or other substances. Presumably the company has something bigger in mind than detecting whether someone is simply dehydrated, though.
Stracey, the new CEO, formerly headed up Applied Imaging, a medical-device company focused on early diagnosis of cancer and genetic disease. Stewart will remain as Cantimer’s chief technology officer.