Tuesday, March 07, 2006

AkuBio's Resonance Acoustic Profiler - vs Manalis' SMRs




So now there is a practical implementation of a microfluidic Quartz Crystal Monitor - QCM?

Despite all the effort and money into MITs Manalis' Suspended Microfluidic Resonant Detectors - SMRs, Akubio a spin off from the UK Cambridge University, founded by Prof David Klenerman, is simple straightforward microfluidic channel, coupled to what appears to be a conventional quartz crystal oscillator.

Product seems to be up and running and developing real applications rather than focusing on the microscale fabrication / integration, like Manalis is doing with costly co-development with IMT MEMS of Santa Barbara, of intricate complex micromachined MEMS cantilever SMR microfluidic structures.

All in all, the method of coupling fluidic channels to detection / excitation oscillators is useful for studying chemical and biological effects / interactions. But rather than initially focusing on the MEMS as Manalis is doing, Klenerman's Akubio Technology is doing the right thing, which is focussing on the applications.

Yes one could do all kinds of handwaving that the real emphasis should be on making a small disposable in MEMS, but anyone with a good business sense would agree that critical is applications development for real uses, and a MEMS centric effort will not have enough effort placed on developing critical value added end use applications.

Right out of the chute, here are 3 classes of APPLICATIONS AkuBio is supporting in Life Science Research -

Protein Characterization
Resonant Acoustic Profiling enables the real time label-free analysis of molecular interaction kinetics and affinities by measuring the change in frequency and resistance occurring on an oscillating quartz resonator due to surface binding events. Here we outline the basic principles of this powerful detection technique and review the key steps of analysis.

Antibody Concentration & Antigen Cross-Reactivity
A number of methods are currently available for measurement of antibody concentrations, including colorimetric assays (ELISA, Biuret, BCA, Bradford), densitometric methods, and amino acid analysis. Unfortunately a variety of limitations associated with these techniques (long analysis times, lack of binding specificity, label interference), makes their use in certain situations non-ideal.

Resonant Acoustic Profiling technology overcomes these issues by directly measuring the specific binding of antibodies to target proteins. The assays are label free, rapid, and can be designed to measure only active protein binding. Here we present protocols for the determination of antibody concentrations and characterization of antigen cross-reactivity.

Affinity and Kinetic Characterization
Resonant Acoustic Profiling enables the real time label-free analysis of interaction kinetics and affinities for molecular binding partners. Here we present a method for the accurate measurement of the affinity and kinetics of the interaction between the small human protein myoglobin, which is widely used as a cardiac biomarker, and its corresponding monoclonal antibody.
..........................................

Sounds like a sensible start to a technology, which later after sufficient applications development, will then warrant focus on microfabricated integration, but hardly at the start is the cost and effort for complex microfabricated cantilevered microfluidics worth the effort. The end use focus has to come first - to be market driven so as to avoid more costly errors.

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