Hayward, CA - Biolog, Inc. has been
awarded a Phase II grant from the National Institutes
of Health for further development of the company's
proprietary Phenotype MicroArray™ (PM) technology.
The new grant provides $750,000 over two years.
The PM technology
provides direct genotypic-to-phenotypic comparison
capability. This can save
crucial time and dollars in not only functional
genomics research but also in drug discovery,
anti-microbial, anti-fungal and agricultural biotechnology
The latest grant
was awarded after the successful completion of
work funded by a Phase I NIH grant in 1999. Biolog
used the grant to develop approximately 700 tests
for the Phenotype MicroArrays. The Phase II NIH
grant will allow Biolog to increase the number
of PM assays to its target of approximately 2,000.
Ph.D., chairman and co-founder of Biolog, explains,
"Tests are being developed using as model organisms
two of the most important microbial species, Escherichia
coli (E. coli bacteria), which is a
procaryotic microbe, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae
(yeast), which is a eucaryotic microbe. Our
knowledge of the function of most genes, including
those found in human cells, is primarily by extrapolation
from previous genetic, biochemical and physiological
studies on these two microbes. The importance
of understanding the additional 2,000-3,000 genes
of unknown function in these model microbes cannot
are run in a high-throughput automated system
developed by Biolog called the OmniLog® PM. Over
24 hours, more than 450,000 phenotypic data points
can be generated using the PM technology and the
OmniLog® PM System. "We are highly pleased to
receive the Phase II grant so we can accelerate
development of this important tool," commented
Tim Mullane, Biolog president and CEO.
MicroArray technology was envisioned and developed
by Dr. Bochner. In a paper in Nature (Nature,
Vol 339, May 11, 1989), Dr. Bochner described
how advances in analyzing the expression of all
the genes and proteins in the cell would lead
to a need to analyze all the properties, or phenotypes,
of the cell. "That time is now," Dr. Bochner
said. "The avalanche of data collected in genomics
projects is well underway. Complementary phenotypic
data will greatly accelerate our understanding
of the workings of the cell."
genomics, today's researchers need easy-to-use
tools to help determine the function of the genes
being mapped. Biolog's PM technology allows researchers
to directly measure the function using a gene
knockout. The PM technology directly measures
the effect the genetic change has on the physiological
properties of the cell. This is done by simply
comparing a control cell line with a genetically
altered cell line in arrays consisting of approximately
2,000 phenotypic tests.
A second important
application is in antimicrobial drug development.
Just as you can directly measure the effects of
genetic perturbations on cells, you can similarly
measure the effects of chemical perturbations.
An important example is assaying cell lines exposed
to drug leads to determine their effects at the
cellular level and to look for potential side
the PM technology to researchers, Biolog has generated
interest in drug discovery and agricultural biotechnology
applications. Observed Dr. Bochner, "In several
projects, we have demonstrated that the PM technology
can assay the phenotypic expression of gene knockouts.
We have also demonstrated that the technology
tracks and groups antimicrobials based upon their
mode of action."
Most methods being offered to researchers
in pharmaceutical, agricultural or biotechnology
companies provide two-dimensional array data from
gene-chips or protein gels. "There is an established
need to analyze both cellular and molecular changes,"
said Tim Mullane, Biolog's president and CEO.
"Not only can you analyze which phenotypes have
been changed, but you can quantify phenotypes
and determine when that phenotype is expressed."
"The data generated
by our PM technology provides a wealth of information
unavailable in other methods," he said. "For example,
we offer two benefits to the drug discovery process:
the ability to quickly determine the function
of genes of interest, and, later in discovery,
to analyze cellular affects of drug compounds
before developers have committed to expensive
So far, Biolog
has focused exclusively on microbial cells with
applications aimed at infectious diseases and
agricultural biotechnology. The company intends
to expand beyond this capability when it adapts
the PM technology for mammalian cells.
to soon announce its first corporate partnership
around this new technology.
Biolog is applying broad experience
and an advanced technology platform to solve critical
problems in pharmaceutical and biotechnology research.
The company expects to use these strengths to
become a dominant provider of solutions in the
growing area of cell-based research. More information
on the Phenotype MicroArray technology and other
products is available from Tim Mullane, Biolog,
Inc., (510) 785-2564, ext. 319, www.biolog.com.