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Scotland's Dynamic Bioarray Rolls out Products to Improve Microarray Workflow, Data Quality

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NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Dynamic Bioarray, a two-year-old company based in Glasgow, Scotland, recently introduced a suite of products, including silicon chips and a slide holder, intended to improve the efficiency and data quality of microarray users' experiments.

"Our ideal customer is someone who needs to save precious arrays and samples, who cares about data quality, and who is looking for a precision-made kit for their microarray biochip development work," Katya McKenna, Dynamic Bioarray's managing director, told BioArray News in an email.

McKenna, who has worked in the microarray field for the past 12 years, started Dynamic BioArray in 2012 to develop components and equipment that "make life easier for microarray analysts and developers of small-sample analysis," channeling the firm's "technical expertise in bio-analytical, micro- and nanoarray technologies."

The company was set up by physicists, biochemists, and microelectronics engineers from the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh who were working on a multidisciplinary proteomic research program. Last year, the nascent firm secured a £100,000 ($168,000) grant from Scottish Enterprise as well as seed funding from Scottish angel syndicate Gabriel.

"The funding has allowed the company to take the product from proof-of-principle concept to pre-production prototype of the first product, to produce a strong business plan, to take the technology development further, and to start marketing the product widely," said McKenna.

Dynamic Bioarray's debut kit consists of its SlideCaddy, a microarray slide holder made from inert materials that is designed to be used together with its disposable SilicoArray patterned chips. The SlideCaddy can also be used to handle and protect highly valuable and delicate samples. Using the two products together, Dynamic Bioarray's clients can expect a "substantial reduction in experimental failures and artifacts, reagent savings, and enhancement of the data quality," McKenna said.

Manufactured using lithographic, micro-fabrication processes, Dynamic Bioarray's SilicoArray consists of functionalized hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces, and each slide can host one, four, eight, or 16 wells. The SlideCaddy holder encloses the SilicoArray slide, forming fine parallel capillary channels when the chip and slide are inserted together. The capillary can then be filled with one's sample reagent or buffer of choice.

McKenna touted the system as "easy to use," noting that it may enable microarray analysts to develop more optimal protocols for small-volume assays. Small volumes of precious samples, such as biopsies or patient sera, can be applied to arrays without dilution and using much lower volumes than are commonly used.

"Using our kit can help our customers to save samples and materials and to achieve better data quality in microarray assays," McKenna said. She added that the components of the firm's kits can be sold separately and can be used by Dynamic Bioarray's customers to construct and prototype their own biochip devices, "especially those who are interested in silicon substrates."

The firm's target customers include researchers and students using or developing new microarray technologies, classical slide microarray technology users, small droplet analysis developers and engineers, developers of biological meso- and nanoarrays, and biochip technology innovators, according to McKenna.

While the new products are Dynamic Bioarray's first, the company is working with its initial customers to develop new applications of its technology and matching products. In addition to DNA, protein, lipid, cell, and tissue arrays, Dynamic Bioarrays is developing tools for use "not only in classical microarray slide work, but also in areas such as microscopy and cell and tissue engineering and imaging," McKenna said.

The Scottish company is also interested in entering foreign markets via partners.

"We would like to invite interest from distributors of microarray and microscope slide accessory kits all over the world and from potential partners in development of new products for the market," said McKenna. "We would be very interested in the North American market," she added. "It would be great for us to get more contacts with American distributors involved in microarray and microscope slide markets or commercial microarray analysis sites."

As Dynamic Bioarray expands, it will likely face competition from other tool vendors that sell hybridization chambers such as SciGene, Arrayit, and Clontech. At the same time, McKenna is positioning Dynamic Bioarray's products as complementary to what already exists on the market.

"One might say we are competing against all the suppliers of microarray hybridization chambers, but there is a whole range of features that distinguish what we are offering from others, and our system is not designed to phase out others, it can offer some specific advantages and capabilities," McKenna said.

The firm's main products at this stage are for "accessorizing array slides to improve the processing of slides in between being spotted and put on a scanner," she said. "So we fit into that gap or niche in the microarray process and in the market."

Dynamic Bioarray's kit can also be broken down according to customer need, she noted. Its SlideCaddy can be used with any standard size microscope slide. The SilicoArray can also be sold separately from the caddy and can have any physical dimensions.

"For example, it can be made to fit into hybridization chambers of other manufacturers' [products] and used to either support fluidics or arrays themselves," McKenna said. "We would accommodate such customers," she added. "Our philosophy is more to do with complementing what others have rather than competition."

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