Liaison(s): Hugh McManus, Surekha Vajjhala, Jeff Koehler
Nanostream Inc., a company in Pasadena, California, provides microfluidic tools to alleviate bottlenecks in drug discovery applications. Researchers in drug discovery applications are now charged with running experiments using volumes that are one million times smaller than those used in the era of beakers, test tubes and flasks. Nanostream is currently examining two bottlenecks in drug discovery, namely high-throughput separations and microfluidic applications for drug target screening using enzymes. The KGI Team was charged with supporting research and development efforts for the latter product portfolio. The overall goal of the project is to validate three pharmaceutically relevant assays for use in a microfluidics platform. The TMP was divided into three major stages. In the first stage of the project, the team was charged with identifying enzyme assays that are pharmaceutically relevant. The team was next charged with validating available protocols for enzyme assays. This involves working with enzymes and inhibitory compounds in volumes that are normally used in an industrial setting. The team ran the assays in a reproducible manner at these standard volumes and then tested the components of the assays in a mock microfluidics setup (assay development chip). This step of the project, involved scaling the standard reaction volumes to the small volumes appropriate for use in a microfluidics platform. As surface effects dominate in the realm of microfluidics, the assay development chip was a tool with which the team monitored the components of their reactions for surface adsorption prior to using the microfluidic chip. Following completion of experiments on surface effects, the team moved to validating the assays for use in a microfluidic device. The culmination of this project was a presentation to the senior management.