Biotechnology companies are building on what they have learned about microfluidics techniques over the past decade and are expected to drive this market toward $1.9 billion in three years, reports Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN). The technology offers a number of advantages, including reducing reagent consumption, increasing speed and analytical performance, multiparameter testing, and user friendliness, according to the January 15 issue of GEN.
"The globalization of life science research and an increasing trend toward novel diagnostic development, particularly point of care, are providing a significant boost toward a greater acceptance of microfluidics methodologies," says John Sterling, Editor in Chief of GEN.
Much of drug discovery focuses on finding inhibitors of enzyme targets such as kinases, phosphatases, and proteases. Caliper Life Sciences created its Mobility Shift Assay to interrogate druggable enzymes. It combines the advantages of capillary electrophoresis with microfluidics technology for the direct measurement of substrate and product.
Biosite has developed protein array technologies that contain microcapillaries for controlling the flow of fluids in immunoassay processes. The protein array format uses several different microcapillary designs to control the contact of sample with reagents and to direct the flow of fluid throughout the protein array. For example, after a blood sample is added to the array, a special internal filter separates cells from plasma. Next a capillary directs the sample into a chamber that contains dried immunoassay reagents. After an incubation time that is determined by another microcapillary element of the array, the sample next flows down a capillary path and interacts with an antibody array. The interactions are detected in the company's Triageฎ Meters that scan the array device with a laser diode.
Other companies covered in the GEN article include ChipShop, Genefluidics, Paraytec, CellASIC, and DiscoveRx.
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