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Luminex, UNM Alliance May Make Flow Cytometry an Attractive Option for High-Throughput Drug Screening

NEW YORK, May 25 (GenomeWeb News) - An ongoing collaboration between Luminex and the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque may lead to an ultra-high-throughput version of Luminex's xMAP assay platforms, and may help increase the throughput of flow cytometers to the point where big pharma may find them attractive options for drug-screening applications, not just basic research.


Specifically, Luminex has been working with the research group of Larry Sklar at UNM to investigate the compatibility of Luminex's flow cytometers and bead-based xMAP assays with HyperCyt, a system Sklar invented that enables the high-throughput delivery of liquid samples from well plates to commercial flow cytometers to facilitate flow-based screening applications.


"The purpose of the collaboration is to demonstrate the feasibility of compatibility between Luminex's technology and [HyperCyt]," James Jacobson, vice president of R&D for Luminex, told GenomeWeb News at the International Society for Analytical Cytology congress, held in Quebec City, Quebec, this week. "There is the potential for commercialization of a very high-throughput version of our technology based on this."


Terms of the agreement give Luminex an option to license the technology from UNM in order to commercialize it. Luminex is considering this option, Jacobson said.


Luminex's xMAP technology is bead-based and used for a variety of highly multiplexed biochemical assays including gene- and protein-expression profiling, SNP detection, cytokine profiling, and diagnostic testing. The assays are performed on Luminex's 200, 100 IS, or HTS flow cytometry systems, to which HyperCyt could be coupled to significantly enhance the throughput of xMAP-based assays.


Flow cytometry has been well-validated on a wide range of biochemical and cell-based assays, but hasn't been used as a high-throughput platform primarily due to limitations on front-end sample-handling and back-end data analysis.


Validating HyperCyt as a front-end device for increasing the sampling rate and overall throughput of the Luminex systems could go a long way toward increasing the drug-discovery community's interest in flow cytometers for high-throughput drug-screening using bead- or cell-based assays.


Luminex, however, will continue to play primarily in bead-based biochemical assays for the time being, Jacobson said. HHHe also acknowledged the importance of eventually incorporating cell-based assay data into the fold.


"Our current product focuses very narrowly on bead-based assays right now," Jacobson said. "Certainly the cellular aspect of that is very important. Biochemistry doesn't happen in a tube, it happens in a cell, so integrating the information from the bead-based assays with the cell information is very important for the drug discovery process."


When asked whether Luminex is currently working on ways to incorporate cell-based assay data with its xMAP technology, Jacobson said, "Never say never."


A full version of this story will appear in the May 26 issue of Cell-Based Assay News, a GenomeWeb News sister publication.

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