11-Sep-2009

New microchip capable of 1,000 reactions at once

Abstract

UCLA researchers have developed technology to perform more than a thousand chemical reactions at once on a stamp-size microchip, which could accelerate the identification of potential drug candidates for treating diseases like cancer.

UCLA researchers have developed technology to perform more than a thousand chemical reactions at once on a stamp-size microchip, which could accelerate the identification of potential drug candidates for treating diseases like cancer.

UCLA chemists, biologists and engineers collaborated on the technology, which is based on microfluidics the use of miniaturised devices that channel minute amounts of liquid chemicals. The chemical reactions were performed using in situ click chemistry, a technique often used to identify potential drug molecules that bind to protein enzymes to either activate or inhibit an effect in a cell.

In this study, scientists produced a PC-driven chip capable of conducting 1,024 reactions simultaneously; in a test system this ably identified potent inhibitors to the enzyme bovine carbonic anhydrase.

A thousand complex processes, including controlled sampling and mixing of a library of reagents and sequential microchannel rinsing, all took place on the microchip device, and were completed in just a few hours.

So far, the UCLA team is restricted to analysing the reaction results off-line, but in future it intends to automate this aspect of the work.

"The precious enzyme molecules required for a single in situ click reaction in a traditional lab now can be split into hundreds of duplicates for performing hundreds of reactions in parallel, reducing reagent consumption and accelerating the process for identifying potential drug candidates," said study author and professor of molecular and medical pharmacology, Hsian-Rong Tseng, a researcher at UCLA's Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging.

In future the team will explore the use of this microchip technology for other screening reactions in which chemicals and material samples are in limited supply for example, with a class of protein enzymes called kinases, which play critical roles in the malignant transformation of cancer.

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