Requiring only 1,000 cells per well, the new assay eliminates the requirement for extensive cell culture facilities and enables screeners to study cells that are in short supply (e.g. blood platelets and neurons), thereby opening up an area of study that is inaccessible to standard microplate-based technologies.
Caliper's LabChip 3000 system, used for automating biochemical and cell-based assays via microfluidic chips, was launched in February, the first major product introduction for the company since it merged with Zymark last year.
Amphora already makes use of Caliper's microfluidics technology as a platform for developing drugs and has applied it to the development of a broad assay technology that can be applied to a number of target classes, including G protein-coupled receptors.
The new technology means that certain cell lines that were not compatible with the LabChip 3000, including HEK-293 cells, a type of kidney cell used in a broad variety of applications. Caliper will incorporate the technology into a new calcium-flux assay for scientists studying GPCR targets.
Under the terms of the agreement, Amphora will transfer to Caliper its proprietary cell culture techniques, as well as various hardware and software upgrades that the firm has implemented on Caliper's proprietary microfluidic screening system.
In exchange, Caliper will compensate Amphora through a combination of cash, Caliper products, and royalties based on future sales of cell-based assays.