Silicon Biosystems took a key step in developing its U.S. business by signing up Fox Chase Cancer Center to use its DEPArray™ technology in identifying biomarkers for circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The accord comes less than a year after Italian-owned parent company Silicon Biosystems SpA created a San Diego-based U.S. subsidiary, with the goal of expanding into the North American research and clinical diagnostics markets.
The DEPArray platform allows users to find, sort, select, and separate individual cells for further analysis or culturing. It is based on the principle of dielectrophoresis to isolate and manipulate cells in suspension with a microelectronic array. The approach allows users to control individual cells and micro-particles inside a disposable cartridge. DEPArray works with samples of a few microliters and analyzes solutions containing from 1 to 100,000 cells.
“Having the capability to obtain molecular characterizations from pure single cells will enable us to better understand the underlying genomic heterogeneity of cancers,” states Massimo Cristofanilli, M.D., professor and chairman of Fox Chase’s department of medical oncology. “This innovative approach may allow us to identify and measure specific biomarkers with the potential for therapeutic targeting and monitoring of CTCs, increasing our capability to impact patients’ quality of life and survival."
Beyond sorting, DEPArray is designed to allow researchers to isolate rare cells through image-based selection, sort cell loads as small as 10s of cells, investigate cell-to-cell interaction such as the study of cell lysis mechanisms induced by cytotoxic cells, perform single-cell immunophenotyping, and deliver new drugs.