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Press Releases

For Immediate Release
Monday, January 14, 2002
 
Contact: Tim Mullane
  Biolog, Inc.
  (510) 785-2564 ext. 319
 
Biolog Reports Completion of MicroArrays Measuring 2,000 Cell Phenotypes at Biotech Conference
 

Zurich, Switzerland - January 14, 2002 - Biolog, Inc. announced the achievement of a major milestone here today at the Cambridge Health Institute's (CHI's) Fourth Annual Conference, "Lab-on-a-Chip and Microarrays for Post-Genome Applications". In a scientific presentation, Barry Bochner, Biolog Chairman and Vice President of Research and Development, described how the company has reached its target of developing Phenotype MicroArraysTM that test 2,000 cellular properties simultaneously. The new Phenotype MicroArray (PM) technology permits the study of a wide range of cell properties (phenotypes) as a means of understanding how a gene or a drug affects living cells - a critical step in identifying new drug targets and developing safe and effective new drugs.

With this accomplishment, Biolog brings genomic scale technology to cellular analysis. In his presentation, Dr. Bochner described the hurdles that had to be surmounted to develop the PM technology, followed by examples showing how this technology can improve drug discovery by streamlining and shortcutting several important and costly steps. The technology can be used in basic research, target identification, lead characterization, and lead optimization. It will also have important applications in toxicology, once it is fully implemented.

The current generation of PM technology can be used to analyze a very wide range of both procaryotic and eucaryotic microbial cells. The company has already developed the technology for use with a broad number of microbes using just three basic array sets: one for gram-negative bacteria, one for gram-positive bacteria, and one for yeast and filamentous fungi. The PM technology is robust and easy to use. The test cell suspension is introduced into the arrays, and then put in Biolog's proprietary OmniLog® instrument. The OmniLog® is a reader/incubator that monitors the cellular changes in the 50 arrays simultaneously. The System automatically records the kinetic response of the cells. Cell lines are typically analyzed up to 48 hours.

Dr. Bochner presented examples from two broad categories. First, he talked about using PMs to see how cells change as a result of a genetic change.
A major application here is in the field of functional genomics, in which scientists conduct studies to determine the biological role of new and unusual genes. Dr. Bochner discussed how the technology was validated using genes of known function and then described its use in elucidating the function of genes where no function had been ascribed. This work was done in two model cellular systems: Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Dr. Bochner also described the use of PMs in testing the effects of drugs or other chemicals on cells. The technology provides a phenotypic fingerprint indicative of the mode of action of the chemical. In a single analysis, a scientist can learn about the principal actions of the chemical, secondary or side effects, and synergy or antagonism with other drugs. Using standard methods, this would require three separate analyses, and in the end would provide a picture that is less complete. In most drug development programs, a target is picked and high-throughput cell testing is usually employed in assays to see how well drug leads hit the intended target. PM analysis shows not only how well a drug hits its intended target, but also if the drug is hitting undesirable secondary targets that can cause side effects.

"As scientists become more familiar with PM technology, they will appreciate more and more how powerful and useful it is", commented Dr. Bochner. "They will also think of new and important uses of the technology. The idea of having a ready-to-use array that can test 2,000 cellular properties will spark the imagination and lead to another round of technological development and a much better understanding of cellular biology."
PMs provide unprecedented speed and cost-effectiveness in cell analysis. Scientists using conventional methods are only able to test one phenotype at a time, and they need to know beforehand which phenotypes are important to test. PMs, on the other hand, allow researchers to measure thousands of phenotypes that may be important. Information from PMs can indicate whether or not changes in gene or protein expression are significant at the cellular level. As such, PMs complement the molecular information provided by DNA microarray and proteomic technologies, which are also used to study gene function.

A current focus of the company is to develop similar arrays that will work with human cells. The company also has an active technology licensing program to use the current generation of PMs for development of anti-bacterial and anti-fungal drugs.

Biolog, a privately held company based in Hayward, CA, is a pioneer in the development of powerful new cell analysis tools for solving critical problems in clinical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology research and development. The company's Phenotype MicroArray technology and OmniLog® PM System can be used in the discovery and development of new drugs as well as bioactive agents for animal and plant applications. Further information can be obtained at the company's website, www.biolog.com.