US firm Boston Biomedica has been issued an additional US patent covering the design and use of its Pressure Cycling Technology for the control of pressure-sensitive chemical reactions. The patent (No. 6,569,672) covers the methods and apparatus needed to make a reactor capable of rapid programmable fluctuations in pressure.
PCT uses pulses of high pressure to reversibly turn on and off enzymatic reactions under very well defined and controlled conditions. The pressure cycling apparatus described in the patent provides precise regulation of the movement of fluids in and out of the reaction chamber using a series of valves. The technology would be of particular use in studying protein-protein interactions, as it could both allow reagents to be added during a reaction, as well as allow the sampling of products from the reaction mixture, all under controlled pressure and temperature conditions.
Kevin Quinlan, chief operations officer at Boston Biomedica, said that the company is currently seeking partners to help exploit the use of PCT in diagnostics, therapeutics, and other areas of life sciences. "Meanwhile, we will continue our current focus on the use of PCT for the extraction of nucleic acids, proteins and small molecules from difficult-to-lyse tissues and cells, as we and our collaborators find new applications and advantages for this system in sample preparation," he added.
The PCT process is of particular use in the control of enzymatic reactions and may have applications in a broad range of applications, including extracting nucleic acids and proteins from cells and tissues, inactivation of viruses in plasma while retaining its therapeutic properties, purification of proteins and nucleic acids, DNA sequencing and control of nucleic acid hybridisations, according to the company.