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May 15, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 10)

Tiny but Powerful Tools for Sample Prep

Host of Technologies Born for Biodefense Improve Wide Range of Industry Workflows

  • Lab on a Chip, Not Chip in a Lab

    Rheonix’ CARD (chemical and reagent device) technology is a point-of-care assay product that is completely disposable and can be used by technicians with no special training and with minimal instrumentation, according to Peng Zhou, senior vp.

    CARD is constructed of 1 mm thick polystyrene using a fabrication method called solvent elimination. The process takes 15 to 20 seconds, and when it is complete, all of the valves, channels, and networks are in place on the card, reported Zhou.

    Rheonix is a spin-off from Kionix. At first, it used MEMS-based materials such as silica and glass wafers to create microfluidics devices. “We realized that the requirements for applications in the life science areas are so different that we switched to a different substrate and developed a totally different fabrication method,” said Zhou.

    Sample preparation is included on one of the modules on the CARD, as well as amplification and endpoint detection, which is carried out by means of microarray technology. The CARD can identify 20–30 different subtypes of viruses. The main application is clinical testing, where a sample of blood or a cheek swab can be taken and analyzed immediately on the CARD.

    The CARD is able to fully manifest the idea of lab-on-a-chip, which has not yet been fully realized by microfluidic technologies, Zhou said. “Instead of lab-on-a-chip, you have chips in a lab. People have heard about it a lot, but no one can actually deliver. I hope that what Rheonix has done is really demonstrate that we have indeed successfully built a highly functional and automated processes for molecular diagnostic around CARD technology.”

  • Autonomous Platform

    Click Image To Enlarge +
    Engineers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute deploy Spyglass Biosecurity’s Environmental Sample Processor to monitor algal blooms in Monterey Bay.

    Spyglass Biosecurity’s products are based on IP developed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Spyglass is using the technology to address environmental issues that threaten the safety of oceans, rivers, lakes, and any other aquatic environment.

    The Spyglass ESP autonomous platform collects water samples and processes and analyzes them on board. Essentially, it is a self-propelled, robotic molecular biology lab that can be used for a variety of research or environmental quality applications.

    According to Chris Melancon, president and CEO, ESP has been deployed over the past eight to nine years to collect data from a whale carcass at the bottom of Monterey Bay, showing the development of communities of organisms. The company has also monitored harmful algal blooms in the bay and fecal bacteria in Santa Cruz for beach water quality.

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