Sydney’s Sona Nanotech signs with U.S. distributor

Sydney startup has inked its first distribution deal for a new type of gold nanoparticle that could be used in health care.

Sona Nanotech Ltd. said the agreement with United States distributor Strem Chemicals Inc.will help commercialize its nanotechnology. The Cape Breton company has developed a process to produce non-toxic gold particles.

That has the potential to open up new medical uses for microscopic gold in such areas as cancer treatment, diagnostic imaging or drug delivery.

Gold nanotechnology has limited application in the sector now because it can’t be injected into the body since a toxic compound is part of the manufacturing process.

Sona CEO Gerry Marangoni said the market for the firm’s first product, rod-shaped gold particles, will be researchers in North America and around the world.

“They will be able to take the nanorods and use them in whatever they’re developing in terms of technology,” Marangoni said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Strem, based in Newburyport, Mass., manufactures and markets specialty chemicals for research and development.

Marangoni said production of the microscopic particles will begin soon at Cape Breton University, the company’s research base.

Sona signed a three-year agreement in the spring to help create a smart metallic nanomaterial research program at the university. Marangoni and fellow company co-founders Kulbir Singh and Michael McAlduff are now working with researchers at CBU’s Verschuren Centre.

Sona is backed by Numus Financial Inc., a Halifax venture capital firm. Numus is led by mining industry veterans Wade Dawe and Jim Megann.

The nanotechnology firm, launched last year, has also received $80,000 in federal funding from the National Research Council’s industrial research assistance program.

Sona is also among 56 firms to make the second round of this year’s I-3 technology startup competition. Winners of the Innovacorp-sponsored event will be announced in January.

The Sydney startup shared top prize in last year’s Spark Cape Breton entrepreneurship competition, taking home $50,000.

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