Biametrics, a four-year-old German technology company, is in the midst of introducing two new products that support label-free, kinetic microarray experiments.
The first, called B-screen, enables the characterization of biomolecular interactions in bioanalytics and drug discovery, as well as array production and quality control, according to the firm. By combining B-screen with standard microarrays users can obtain a label-free readout of kinetic data for up to 10,000 spots per square centimeter, the company said in a statement last week.
Its second product, called B-portable, should become available later this year, and will allow researchers to apply the company's underlying detection technology in the point-of-care setting to diagnose early stage cancer or to identify disease-causing pathogens, Florian Pröll, a managing director at the company, told BioArray News.
"B-screen is for research applications and provides the possibility to read out standard microarrays in a label-free way, so that you get more of information than you get from a typical biosensor experiment," Pröll said.
"The B-portable, as the name indicates, is a portable device that is able to measure biomolecular reactions label-free. We will launch it hopefully by the end of this year."
Pröll cofounded Biametrics with fellow managing director Günther Proll in 2010. The privately held firm's technology was developed at Eberhard-Karls University in Tübingen, where the company, which now numbers 10 people, is headquartered.
Biametrics' approach relies on reflectometry to gauge the optical thicknesses of binding biomolecules over time. Monochromatic light from a light-emitting diode is reflected at two boundaries: chip-biolayer and biolayer-buffer of the sensor element. Beams reflected from these boundaries interfere with each other, and that interference can be detected as an intensity-encoded change. By monitoring the optical thickness over time, based on these metrics, Biametrics maintains that it is possible to study label-free biomolecular interaction analysis in real time.
The company's B-screen offering allows customers performing microarray experiments to obtain such binding data. According to the company, the label-free platform is able to handle samples from different body fluids and other sources. The system includes an automated microfluidics element for incubating an array with the sample of interest. The device can also be used with multiple array layouts and various substrates, and is compatible with almost any common microarray printer, the firm maintains.
"It's most useful for antibody characterization, to get information on binding, on epitopes and on antibody appliations, and, of course, for peptide and protein arrays," said Pröll. "You get the information on binding of protein to protein or antibody to protein, and each kind of molecular interaction can be measured label-free," he said.
According to Pröll, Biametrics' ambition is to increase the throughput of protein experiments, while enhancing the kind of information that can be gleaned from such assays. "Biosensor technology is used in the community for protein research, and our goal is to really scale up the whole procedure and get much higher throughput by using this array format and getting much more information with one run," he said.
The company offers a number of surface dimensions and chemistries for use with the B-screen platform. These include two- and three-dimensional biopolymer coatings, epoxy coatings, and streptavidin coatings, all of which are optimized to immobilize different molecules of interest on the array, Pröll said.
While B-screen supports arrays made available in the traditional microscope slide format of 75 mm by 25 mm, the planned B-portable will rely on smaller arrays of 10 mm2. The company is touting the system as capable of producing a result within minutes, as well as handy enough to be used in conjunction with a laptop anywhere.
And like B-screen, the B-portable will support chips produced with the same number of coatings — 2D biopolymers, 3D biopolymers, expoxy, and streptavidin.
According to Pröll, the firm's main competition will not come from other array providers, but companies that provide similar kinetic protein measurement instruments using surface plasmon resonance detection, such as Biacore or ForteBio, each of which has seen its tools used not only in life science research but in drug discovery.
Pröll listed a number of application areas where Biametrics' products might be competitive with these other offerings, including small molecule drug discovery using high-density protein or peptide arrays; various molecular diagnostics; consumer safety applications; and aptamer microarray-based screening.