News | July 8, 1999

Aclara Acquires Patent for Two-Dimensional Chip Electrophoresis

Aclara BioSciences Inc. (Hayward, CA) has acquired key microfluidics intellectual property from Novartis (Basel, Switzerland), including a seminal patent covering two-dimensional (2D) electrophoresis on microfluidic chips.

Two-dimensional electrophoresis is a powerful technique for analyzing complex protein mixtures, and can simultaneously resolve thousands of proteins from a single sample, according to Herbert Hooper, executive VP and chief technical officer of Aclara. While 2-D electrophoresis has emerged as a standard method in proteomics research, it is currently slow, labor intensive, and expensive due to the limits of conventional instrumentation.

"By transferring this technique to microfluidic chips, Aclara intends to enable its partners to realize the efficiencies and economies of miniaturization as applied to proteomics," said Hooper. "This will parallel Aclara's advantages in other applications such as genetic analysis and drug screening."

The intellectual property acquired by Aclara emerged from research performed at Ciba-Geigy (predecessor to Novartis) in the early 1990s. Included in this intellectual property is a U.S. Patent entitled "Device and a Method for the Electrophoretic Separation of Fluid Substrance Mixtures" (5,599,432). This patent broadly covers two-dimensional electrophoresis on microfluidic chips.

Aclara BioSciences is a privately held company that has established technology in microfabrication and microfluidics to advance new tools for drug discovery and genomics. By performing integrated sample processing and analysis on microfluidic chips, these tools enable the rapid, parallel processing of large numbers of samples while requiring only minute volumes of expensive or rare reagents.

Contact: Herbert H. Hooper, Executive VP and Chief Technical Officer, Aclara BioSciences Inc., 3906 Trust Way, Hayward, CA 94545-3716. Tel: 510-293-1855.