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NIH-funded genetic sequencing tool speeds drug discovery, disease diagnostics
Date:10/31/2012

Today physicists at Wake Forest University and NanoMedica, their biotechnology company partner, received a $700,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bring to market a new drug-discovery tool using next-generation genetic sequencing.

The technology, Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead, would be the first bead-based drug-discovery tool to use the latest genetic sequencing technologies, making drug and diagnostics discovery significantly more efficient.

Pharmaceutical companies would use the technology as a sort of Google search for new drugs sending the scientists a protein marker of the disease for which they want to find a treatment, and letting Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead test millions of possibilities all at once.

"Next-gen is much faster and cheaper, and no one is using it for drug discovery as far as we know," said Martin Guthold, associate professor of physics and co-inventor of Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead. "It miniaturizes and massively parallelizes sequencing on beads in little wells, so we can do millions of sequencing actions in unison to find potential drug candidates to treat a specific disease."

The NIH awarded the funding through its Small Business Innovation Research program, so Wake Forest will share the funds with NanoMedica, a Winston-Salem company that has licensed the patent for Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead.

The technology uses a roughly one-inch-square chip, similar to a computer chip. A football-shaped area in the middle of the chip is filled with millions of wells. Each well contains a bead, to which the researchers attach a potential drug molecule.

"Each chip contains millions of potential drug candidates," Guthold said. "We know the position and identity of each, because we can associate a potential drug molecule with the sequence in each well."

To find a disease-drug match, a pharmaceutical company would supply the target for instance, a protein called Src kinase associated with many c
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Contact: Katie Neal
nealkc@wfu.edu
336-758-6141
Wake Forest University
Source:Eurekalert

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