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Ontario Institute for Cancer Research Announces Investment in Microfluidics Technology for the Discovery of Anti-Cancer Drugs
Date:3/24/2011

TORONTO, March 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) announced today it has made an investment to accelerate commercialization of a potentially revolutionary high-throughput screening technology directed at the discovery of anticancer drugs. The technology, Smart Well Plate™, developed at the University of Toronto, is a palm-sized device that utilizes digital microfluidics (DMF), a technique that allows manipulation of cells and tiny droplets of liquid on an open platform with no moving parts.

"The Smart Well-Plate technology may allow for less expensive screening of chemical libraries and elimination of false leads earlier in the drug discovery process, ensuring a higher success rate for clinical trials focused on cancer," said Frank Stonebanks, Vice-President, Commercialization and Chief Commercial Officer of OICR. "OICR's investment is engineered to move this promising technology closer to commercialization."

High-throughput screening, or HTS, is the universal first step in drug development, allowing chemists and scientists to test biological samples with chemical entities as a starting point for drug design and for understanding a particular biochemical process. It combines robotics with data computing, liquid handling devices, and sensitive detectors that allow researchers to quickly conduct millions of biochemical, genetic or pharmacological tests. The HTS process allows for rapid identification of active compounds, antibodies or genes that modulate a particular biochemical pathway.

In recent years, the introduction of microfluidics has improved the HTS process by miniaturizing cell-based assays. However, the process is limited by the complexity of controlling the reagents simultaneously in interconnected channels. In addition, microfluidics heavily relies upon robotics.

DMF takes the screening concept a step further, by reducing robotics and simplifying reagent handling. It allows dropl
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SOURCE The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
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