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cellix's microfluidics systems for drug discovery and cellular diagnostics
cellix's microfluidics systems for drug discovery and cellular diagnostics.
specializing in the area of microfluidics technologies for drug discovery, diagnostics, and medical research is the ireland-based cellix limited. the instrumentation company's signature product is the microfluidic sp1.0, which models human blood vessels, providing scientists with a dynamic set-up mimicking physiological conditions to test new therapeutic drugs. the microfluidic sp1.0 is a platform technology that encompasses a range of disposable biochips, vena8 biochips; a sophisticated pumping system called the mirustm1.0 nanopump; and a cell analysis software program called ducocelltm.
the vena8tm biochips are capable of mimicking human capillaries. disease microenvironments can be simulated in the channels of the biochips as they can be coated with ligands/cells that typically are expressed in vivo. these biochips allow detailed dissection of disease processes at the cellular level where shear stress or continuous flow parameters are known to affect physiologic events. pumping of the fluid within the capillaries of these biochips can be controlled by the mirus nanopump series, which consists of high precision pumping systems designed to aspirate small sample volumes and support flow rates in the range of picoliters per minute to microliter per minute. the mirustm nanopump is computer controlled using the user-friendly flowassay software, which allows the user to aspirate or dispense fluid in addition to specifying variable flow rates and shear stresses under assay conditions.cellix also supplies a complete setup so that the vena8tm biochips can be contained within a microscope cage incubator, designed to maintain the required environmental conditions for cell culture. as such, the mirus range of pumping systems is ideally suited to flow assays using cell suspensions for detailed studies of adhesion, migration, invasion, activation, and toxicology.the cellular image analysis program, ducocell, is capable of fast and reliable counting of cells, sorting of cells by morphological parameters, and statistical analysis of these morphological features. ducocelltm can analyze a number of different contrast images such as brightfield , differential interference contrast (dic) contrast, and phase contrast images, and works with the majority of common image formats.at present, the microfluidic platform is being used for academic/institutional (national cancer institute, nih, university of washington) and pharmaceutical (astrazeneca) research and not in a clinical environment; and so the company does not require fda approval for its products. however, for the designing phase, management investigated fda guidelines on similar products and all materials and protocols are in line with fda standards. the products are ce approved.the products of cellix have multiple benefits. the vena8tm biochips, together with the mirustm nanopump and ducocelltm software, result in a microfluidic-enabling platform that enables high content, real-time dynamic cell function studies. findings from a survey undertaken by students of the mba entrepreneurial program at the fox school of business at temple university in philadelphia found that the majority of potential end users interviewed said they believed that the number one feature of cellix's platform was in fact the ability of the system to mimic the in vivo physiological disease microenvironment more closely. they said they believed that the biochip designs, which can be coated with proteins of particular interest, allow researchers to investigate areas of the vascular network only previously available through animal experimentation. in addition to replicating these microenvironments, cellix vena8tm biochips allow multiple assays to be performed much faster than with previous similar technologies (for example, glycotech's flow chamber), allowing major savings in labor and time. also, the volume of reagent/sample per experiment is greatly reduced, approximately 5 microliters to 10 microliters, facilitating a greater number of experiments for initial volume. finally, the assessment of cellular responses can be determined automatically using ducocelltmsoftware, within a matter of minutes, thus allowing lead compounds to be characterized quickly and efficiently.with respect to the applications segment, cellix products are currently focused on the niche market of cell-based assays and are ideally suited for applications studying cell adhesion, migration, invasion, chemotaxis, and shear stress models in following diseases and microenvironments. at present, two applications have been developed in the area of respiratory diseases (asthma and allergies) and autoimmune diseases.talking to technical insights about cellix's future developments, vivienne williams, ceo, comments, "it is cellix's intention to increase the use of the current product offering by validating further applications, which include cardiovascular, angiogenesis and further autoimmune diseases whereby particular cells (for example, eosinophils, platelets, t-cells) adhere to adhesion molecules/cells when exposed to specific proteins." she says, "cellix recently completed a study at a beta reference site (professor dermot kenny's laboratory at the royal college of surgeons in ireland) for platelet adhesion studies to validate the platform for the use as a tool in the area of thrombosis research. an application note for this will be available in early may 2007.
in addition, a study is currently under way in the laboratory of professor evgeni sokurenko at the university of washington to investigate bacterial pathogenesis in the vena8tm biochips, which represent an advance in the approach to investigating and comprehending the mechanisms of adhesion of bacteria. investigating invasiveness, colonization, and toxigenesis potential in real time in a dynamic environment will provide scientists with the know-how to identify novel therapeutics." this area of bacterial adhesion and biofilm culture also has applications in the field of cardiovascular stent infections.the following are some of the future application areas that cellix would be focusing on: biochip ranges--cellix is also developing another range of biochips for chemotaxis--where cells chemotax or move to/from a concentration gradient of a drug. this type of biochip would prove particularly useful in determining drug dose concentrations, which recruits a cell into a particular site of inflammation.mirustm 2.0 nanopump--future development of the mirustm 1.0 nanopumptm would naturally lead to a more high throughput version of cellix's current platform. possible designs are currently being developed. diagnostics--the future of medicine and drug discovery is likely to act as a preventive and a personalized measure against disease and, hence, it is cellix's strategic goal to adapt its current microfluidic biochips to the diagnostic sector and, as such, potential application areas are currently being researched.talking about the cost benefits of cellix's products, williams comments, "the cost advantages of cellix's platform lie primarily in the elimination of false leads earlier in the drug discovery process. because results are more representative of the in vivo physiological condition (the fact that we can use microfluidics to mimic human capillaries), it enables researchers to make more informed decisions such as the 'go/no-go' decision on a particular candidate for a product pipeline."commenting on the time factor, she says that cellix's platform saves time; similar animal tests (for example, rat paw oedema test) make take several days or even weeks compared to hours in cellix's platform before a researcher can make a decision regarding a potential lead's fate. she says, "therefore, we can increase not only researcher productivity but also refine the product pipeline and potential leads.while microfluidics has been hailed for reducing volumes for many years, end users see this as only an added benefit to cellix's platform. while the platform does reduce cost from the resulting reduction in sample and reagent volume, the key benefit is the refined product pipeline for pharma and biotech companies-- [it] leads with a greater chance of success."