Broadway boogie-woogie

NuGEN will partner with Advanced Liquid Logic to co-develop Mondrian-like microfluidic sample preparation automation

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SAN CARLOS, Calif.—NuGEN Technologies Inc., which focuses onthe development of sample preparation solutions for next-generation sequencing(NGS) and genomic profiling applications, and Advanced Liquid Logic (ALL), apioneer in digital microfluidics technology, have inked an exclusiveco-development and supply agreement under which ALL will provideinstrumentation, software and digital microfluidic cartridge technology toNuGEN for commercialization.
As part of the co-development process, NuGEN will focus onreagent and sample preparation, and ALL will provide its expertise in digitalmicrofluidic design and programming. NuGEN will be the exclusive provider ofboth the instrument and reagent technology commercially to the life-science researchmarket.
"I became aware of Advanced Liquid Logic as I was searchingfor a way to provide affordable automation of sample preparation to themarket," says NuGen CEO Elizabeth Hutt. "This is a natural extension of ourcommitment to develop technologies that solve bottlenecks in sample processing,streamline workflows and expand access to precious clinical specimens. There isa strong synergy between the two companies, as both have unique offerings thatchange the way scientists think about their research."
NuGEN will market the system under the brand name MondrianSP, she notes, because NuGEN's brand identity evokes a Mondrian look and feel.
"We recognized that there was a strong similarity betweenthe cartridge design and Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie—where art meets science—the perfect description ofan innovative and elegant design," Hutt adds.
ALL's technology enables direct electrical manipulation ofsub-microliter droplets without requiring pumps, valves or channels. Thecompact benchtop plug-and-play system consists of a touch-screen controlledinstrument and a disposable cartridge that resembles a conventional well plate.A single cartridge can be configured for multiple sample preparationapplications. The instrument itself is small, very reliable, easy to maintainand low-cost, as it has virtually no moving parts due to the innovativemicrofluidic technology used in the disposable cartridges, Hutt notes.
Complex protocols involving hundreds or thousands ofindividual droplet operations are performed in sub-microliter volumes, reducingthe sample and reagent quantities required for genomic studies. Singleinstruments accommodate lower throughput requirements effectively, whilemultiple units can be used in tandem with HTP robotics to further streamlinelarger workflow processes, according to ALL.
The collaboration will focus initially on NGS librarypreparation protocols for Illumina sequencing platforms. The first protocolsare currently being developed in partnership with the Broad Institute. NuGEN isalso collaborating with the Broad Institute and Advanced Liquid Logic on methoddevelopment on the digital microfluidic cartridge.
A broad menu of protocols will be developed for applicationsthat will be compatible with all major NGS platforms and also for other genomicanalysis techniques, including microarrays and qPCR. Future development plansfrom NuGEN include Ovation RNA-Seq and Encore Amplification Free NGS LibrarySystems, with availability expected by year's end.
"We think NuGEN has demonstrated unique capabilities inenabling researchers to work with very small amounts of starting materials,"says Hutt. "Introduction of this system is a natural extension of that mission,as the system allows for even smaller amounts of starting materials by workingin volumes unachievable with any other existing technologies. The need forthese cost-effective tools and efficient workflows in sub-microliter volumestranscends laboratories of all sizes. As utilization of NGS technologies expands,scientists need access to more efficient tools and workflows. The introductionof the Mondrian SP system meets those needs and underscores our commitment tothe scientific community."
"Increasing interest in employing NGS technology hascreated a need for sample preparation automation that is cost-effective toacquire and operate," adds Richard West, president and CEO of ALL. "Digitalmicrofluidics enables flexible automation of sample preparation workflows whiledramatically reducing reagent volumes. We expect the Mondrian SP to gain broadadoption in the research laboratory environment."

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