August 04, 2009
UCLA Chip Does 1024 Chemical Reactions At Once

Small, fast, cheap, and automated microfluidic chips are cutting the cost of research and drug development. A team at UCLA has developed a chip that can screen for binding of many drugs in parallel against drug targets such as enzymes.

A team of UCLA chemists, biologists and engineers collaborated on the technology, which is based on microfluidics the utilization of miniaturized devices to automatically handle and channel tiny amounts of liquids and chemicals invisible to the eye. The chemical reactions were performed using in situ click chemistry, a technique often used to identify potential drug molecules that bind tightly to protein enzymes to either activate or inhibit an effect in a cell, and were analyzed using mass spectrometry.

This chip can do over 1000 chemical reactions at once to check for inhibitors of an enzyme.

While traditionally only a few chemical reactions could be produced on a chip, the research team pioneered a way to instigate multiple reactions, thus offering a new method to quickly screen which drug molecules may work most effectively with a targeted protein enzyme. In this study, scientists produced a chip capable of conducting 1,024 reactions simultaneously, which, in a test system, ably identified potent inhibitors to the enzyme bovine carbonic anhydrase.

The 1,024 chemical reactions were all done in parallel in a few hours. Next the scientists intend to develop automated means to measure the results.

A thousand cycles of 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. At the moment, the UCLA team is restricted to analyzing the reaction results off-line, but in the future, they intend to automate this aspect of the work as well.

The cost cutting and experiment acceleration that come from microfluidic chips lead me to expect a big acceleration in the rate of many advance for many biomedical research problems. There's an obvious parallel here with smaller, faster, and cheaper computer chips. Small mass-produced chips cut costs and speed progress.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 August 04 10:41 PM  Biotech Advance Rates


Comments
Clarium said at August 5, 2009 2:26 AM:

I do not know if this would significantly advance drug development because the main costs of drug development are in the form of the sunk costs of failed drugs. I do hope more prescription small molecule drugs would be released though. Unlike biological drugs, they are commodities once they lose their patent protection. Commoditization is one way to reduce prices; unfortunately, in the case of labor, globalization has commoditized labor. Do you have any data on the potential commoditization of biological drugs? Do you think monoclonal antibodies could be commodities if they lose patent protection?

Do you have any data on the cost of drug development? What percentage of drug development costs are used in finding hits?

David A. Young said at August 5, 2009 9:08 AM:

There's a lot of talk about peak oil prices, but I think there's a serious possibility that -- because of these type of advances -- 20 years from now we may look back on our present time as the era of "peak medical prices." Unless we work really hard to botch things up.

kurt9 said at August 5, 2009 3:55 PM:

The cost cutting and experiment acceleration that come from microfluidic chips lead me to expect a big acceleration in the rate of many advance for many biomedical research problems. There's an obvious parallel here with smaller, faster, and cheaper computer chips.

Indeed, These microfluidic devices are themselves MEMS devices which, in turn, are undergoing a Moore's Law rate of improvement.

Post a comment
Comments:
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
URL:
Remember info?

                       
Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright