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Jan 1, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 1)

Making Strides in the Biodetection Arena

New Types of Arrays, Novel Combinations of Capabilities, and Increased Speeds Revitalize Field

  • Portable Analyzer

    At the conference, Amy L. Altman, Ph.D., director of extramural research office for Luminex, discussed the development of xMAP® technology. This technology, she explained, “enables laboratories to multiplex bioassays, reducing time, labor, and costs over traditional methods.” Thanks to its open-architecture platform, xMAP technology can be applied across a wide range of markets.

    “Our xMAP technology is the underlying foundation for all our systems,” Dr. Altman said, including the recently released Flexmap 3D system, with 500-plex capabilities for high-volume academic and pharmaceutical research applications.

    The smaller, deployable MagPix biological analyzer is for academic research labs and decentralized diagnostic laboratories. The MagPix is a low-cost, rugged, compact, biological testing device designed as a deployable biological analyzer. The MagPix instrument simultaneously detects up to 50 analytes in a single reaction. Because it can include multiple signatures per target agent, false positives are greatly reduced, Dr. Altman pointed out.

    “In addition, each microsphere essentially represents a single reaction. Reading up to 100 microspheres per reaction further validates the result by allowing for statistical analysis of each sample.”

    A 96-well plate can be analyzed within one hour, Dr. Altman said, and can take advantage of an extensive menu of assay panels built on Luminex xMAP beads. “This bead-based format allows for improved kinetics compared to planar arrays.” Furthermore, “the ability to multiplex both proteins and nucleic acids saves the end-user time, labor, and sample, and is a flexible and scalable solution.”

    Rather than interrogating analytes via a flow cell illuminated with focused laser excitation light, “the MagPix employs light-emitting diodes and a charged coupled device imager, coupled with an enhanced magnetic microsphere-based array,” she explained. “The design is rugged with no need for complex laser alignment or hydrodynamic focusing.”

  • Molecular Locks

    Biotami is using molecular lock technology licensed from The Gene Pool to develop certain highly specific, simple format nucleic acid tests.

    Molecular locks are molecular assemblies that bind nucleic acids as specifically as antibodies bind antigens. “Diagnostic molecular-lock components cooperatively and selectively assemble onto the target nucleic acid and lock to form highly stable handles on the nucleic acid. A handle can be used to selectively immobilize the target in a crude lysate. A second handle with incorporated labels can be used to count copies of the locked target without target amplification such as PCR,” explained Susan Weininger, founder and CEO.

    “Molecular locks can lock a nucleic acid target directly, without the use of a hybridizing probe. Direct engagement of the nucleic acid target simplifies sample preparation and may have IP advantages. Sequence patents regarding specific targets may not be relevant when no copy of the nucleic acid has been made or is used in the test.”

    Weininger pointed out that “molecular locks are relatively temperature- and contaminant-insensitive as compared to other technologies, making them ideal for crude sample preparations.”

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