Toshiba develops novel biosensor array with individually coded
26 November 2008
Cambridge Research Laboratory of Toshiba Research Europe Ltd has
developed a novel, label-free biosensor platform that is expected to
significantly shorten the time taken to screen molecules for biomedical
applications, saving days or even weeks of research time.
The platform is capable of combining multiple array experiments in
one single instance on a wide variety of biomolecules such as antibodies
and other proteins. This unique versatility makes it ideal for rapid
process optimization in molecular screening applications.
The reduction in research time is made possible because the new
system takes a novel approach to the assay process.
Traditionally, array manufacturers have sought to increase throughput
by increasing the number of data points (spots) on their arrays.
However, this does not take into consideration the number of actual
array experiments that researchers need to carry out if different
process conditions are required. The Toshiba system provides not only
enough data points in each array, but delivers flexibility into the
process to ensure only one experiment needs to be performed, as it can
accommodate a wide range of process conditions.
Biosensor technology is widely used in pharmaceutical, medical and
biotechnology research. The Toshiba development is aimed initially at
laboratory-based biotechnology research, but is also expected to find
applications in the fields of drug discovery and diagnostics and
personalized medicine. For example, it will provide reduced candidate
screening times leading to huge cost savings in drug discovery.
The unique and enhanced versatility of the Toshiba system derives
from it being particle-based, rather than using a conventional fixed
2-dimensional molecular array on a single surface. Microparticles, each
bearing a machine-readable code and a gold-coated nanometric optical
grating, are produced in very large numbers via a low-cost, scalable
fabrication process developed within the Cambridge Lab.
Each particle has a code-specific biomolecule immobilized on its
surface. The code on any given particle then uniquely identifies a
molecule when it is under test. The nanoscale grating allows simple
optical probing of the interaction between biomolecules in solution with
those immobilized on the surface.
A semi-automated reader system for the particles has also been
developed, which is currently capable of measuring up to 50 particles in
one single test. There is ample scope to fully automate the system and
increase the throughput still higher, so that up to 1000 particles could
be measured in a single test.
The platform has been developed in conjunction with the Institute of
Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge. The institute’s director,
Professor Christopher Lowe, said: “I am pleased to have been able to
contribute to this Toshiba project. The technology is generic,
relatively inexpensive per test and widely applicable to highly
multiplexed analyses of diverse analytes. It should find substantial use
in biomedical and other diagnostic systems, drug and biomarker discovery
and, ultimately, in personalized medicine.”
Personalized medicine is the concept of tailoring a patient’s
treatment for a particular disease to his or her genetic makeup. Even
for relatively common diseases such as cancer and heart disease this
might require the identification of complex panels of biomarkers, which
may be small molecules, proteins, metabolites, or a host of other
indicators. The Toshiba system would provide the ideal means to perform
the necessary diagnostic tests to identify these biomarkers.
Dr Carl Norman, Principal Research Scientist at Toshiba Cambridge
Research Labs, added: “Nanobiotechnology will play an increasingly
significant role in driving the next generation of medical and
pharmaceutical discovery. The flexibility of our new platform could help
organizations significantly shorten their research cycles, and help cut
time to market of medicines for a wide range of diseases.”
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