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Moxtek, Philips to Co-Develop Novel Array


Looking to extend its nanophotonics business into the life-sciences market, Moxtek is co-developing with Philips Research a new microarray platform that it intends to outlicense to an as-yet unidentified life sciences player.

The platform, called the wire-grid microarray chip, will offer high surface-specificity and suppression of background signals, and could provide improved quantitative detection of biomolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids.

The WGM works by illuminating a grid of metal nanowires with polarized excitation light, and detecting the fluorescence generated by target molecules bound to capture probes on the substrate between the nanowires.

Philips and Moxtek, which is owned by Japan's Polatechno, claim that the surface-specific detection of the WGM provides a significant reduction in microarray workflow by removing the need for a washing step and providing the ability to monitor the binding of biomolecules to the substrate in real time.

Jim Meyer, Moxtek's microarray product manager, says that the firm decided to enter the life-sciences market to diversify its offerings. Moxtek has traditionally played in the X-ray and optical-components markets. "We have the ability to mass-produce nanoscale wire-grid polarizers," Meyer says. "Biotech has been applying nanotechnology quite readily, so it seemed like a natural fit for us to investigate that area."

The new platform will have three main advantages in a market dominated by well-known technologies. First, it's an open system, designed to work with most available commercial microarray readers. Secondly, the platform allows a hybridization chamber to be placed on the slide. Because the wire-grid array platform enables the detection of binding in the presence of unbound molecules, it eliminates the need for a separate washing step. Thirdly, the platform's increased sensitivity could enable researchers to look at lower-abundance genes in applications that require higher sensitivity.

A working prototype should be ready by the end of 2009.

— Justin Petrone

Microarray Notes

Osmetech has signed a deal to provide its warfarin sensitivity tests and its eSensor XT-8 molecular diagnostics instrument to 10 out of 12 sites of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's COAG study. The COAG study is trying to understand the relationship between a patient's genetic makeup and his or her response to warfarin, and to eventually instruct warfarin dosing in patients.

Almac Diagnostics will partner with Pfizer and the translational working group of PETACC 3, or the Pan-European Trials in Adjuvant Colon Cancer effort, to discover molecular subtypes, biomarkers, and drug targets related to colorectal cancer. They plan to use Almac's Colorectal Cancer Disease-Specific Array in a retrospective study of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples.


180 thousand
Roche will use Nimblegen's exome arrays to enrich more than 180,000 exons to identify genetic variants for dilated cardiomyopathy.

Funded Grants

$506,708/FY 2009
DNA microarray surface analysis to optimize detection
Grantee: David Grainger, University of Utah
Began: Jul. 15, 2003; Ends: Apr. 30, 2012

Grainger will focus on improving microarray assay performance for clinical use when it comes to issues of reliability, sensitivity, and reproducibility. Specifically, he'll study how to augment printed and/or captured nucleic acid density and address spot-to-spot variability. Ultimately, he aims to make microarrays useful for disease, drug pharmacology, and toxicity screening.

$145,637/FY 2009
Photogenerated Carbohydrate Microarrays
Grantee: Mingdi Yan, Portland State University
Began: Jun. 2, 2008; Ends: Mar. 13, 2013

Yan plans to design and develop carbohydrate microarrays using a photoligation technique. The technique is "versatile, can accommodate a variety of carbohydrate structures, and is highly compatible with existing microarray technologies," says the abstract. To validate and optimize the arrays, Yan will employ the cyanobacterial lectin Cyanovirin-N, an HIV-inactivating protein, as the benchmark system.