Partners will combine Labcyte’s acoustic liquid handling technology with MALDI MS to generate arrays for biomarker validation.

Labcyte has won a $196K award from the National Cancer Institute to fund a collaborative cancer biomarker validation program with the Canary Center of Stanford University. The project aims to develop a system for early cancer detection by combining Labcyte’s acoustic liquid handling for arraying with MALDI mass spectrometry.

Labcyte’s Acoustic Droplet Ejection (ADE) technology uses ultrasound to transfer up to 600,000 different samples a day in 384-, 1536-, and 3456-well plates without touching the samples, negating the use of tips and washing, and avoiding the loss of sample due to adsorption onto surfaces, the firm claims. It says the liquid-handling platform will address a major bottleneck in biomarker discovery by speeding up the process of validating the wealth of potential cancer biomarkers that have been identified.

“The key process is forming high-density arrays of peptides to capture and concentrate the analytes of diagnostic interest from a patient sample and then deposit matrix within each of these array sites, enabling quantitation by MALDI mass spectrometry,” explains Richard Ellson, Labcyte CTO. Acoustic transfer is uniquely suited to this application as it can provide the flexibility to move samples, array peptides, and spot volatile, concentrated solutions of matrix.

Established in 2009, the Canary Center is dedicated to cancer early detection research programs. Housing state-of-the-art core facilities and collaborative research programs in molecular imaging, proteomics, chemistry, and bioinformatics, it claims to be the first in the world to integrate research on both in vivo (imaging) and in vitro (blood and fluid markers) diagnostics.

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