Caliper Life Sciences has launched a new automated electrophoresis system that offers researchers a viable alternative to slab gel electrophoresis on a small microfluidic chip that is set to greatly increase sample throughput leading to a more efficient identification of new targets for drug development.
Based on a microfluidic version of SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis(SDS-PAGE), the LabChip 90 protein assay chip is intended to perform automated protein sizing and quantitation, replacing the agarose slab gel and SDS-PAGE methodologies that are time consuming, labour intensive and prone to variability.
The system samples directly from 96-well plates and integrates all manual operations including staining, destaining, separation, detection and subsequent data analysis, essential to protein analysis. Traditional SDS-PAGE can take anywhere from three to six hours just for electrophoretic separation and detection. The LabChip 90 protein assay chip claims to accomplish these tasks in three hours.
Instead of a crosslinked polyacrylamide gel, the Lab-Chip 90 assay chip uses microfluidic channels filled with an acrylamide polymer solution, which is a sieving matrix for separating the coated proteins according to their size.
The LabChip 90 protein assay chip is primarily aimed at laboratories that require high-throughput, high-quality protein analysis. In addition, the LabChip 90 protein assay chip makes an ideal solution for those conducting structural genomics research. The low volume of reagents, which significantly cuts down on costs is an attractive feature of the product.
Speaking at the product's presentation at the Lab Automation show in London, Martin Hargreaves, microfluidic business development manager told DrugResearcher.com: "This product is an attempt on our part to meet a specific gap in the market and meet the demand from customers."
"The Labchip 90 is unique in the sense that it has a niche in every aspect of the market. It is attractive to anybody that runs the gel electrophoresis method particularly in the identification and detection of DNA and protein fragments."
While Caliper has been at the forefront of pioneering technologies in microfluidics, it could be argued that its full potential has still not been realised.
Liquid handling and automation has indeed had a profound effect on the sector, particularly with regard to making it possible to push the boundaries of HTS. Over the last few years, the microfluidic or lab-on-a-chip sector has been plagued by problems of insufficient throughput, unreliable data and mundane problems such as plugging of the tiny channels used in the products, which have mostly been overcome.
Hargreaves believes that customers are now seeing a significant increase in data quality that is stimulating interest in the technology.
"One major advantage of this system is the quality of data produced which illustrates the assay robustness and reproducibility. We feel the data's digital format for the LabChip 90 is the most amenable method for scientists."
"The microfluidics market is definitely on the up and will continue to do so as the technology matures and interest from companies increases. Any method that saves cost and ensures a greater degree of accuracy is going to receive considerable interest," he commented.
Every kit includes one chip and all reagents necessary to run approximately 300 samples using the LabChip 90 System. It is available now at a starting price of £60,000 (about €85,600)