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RainDance and Sony Co-Develop Consumable Microdroplet Chips for Life Science Apps


This article was originally published on June 14.

By Ben Butkus

RainDance Technologies and Sony DADC Austria disclosed today that they have completed a two-year collaboration culminating in the co-development and manufacture of microdroplet-based consumable chips for life science applications.

In addition, RainDance announced the commercial launch of the first product from the collaboration: so-called HeatWave chips for use on RainDance's RDT 1000 instrument for sequence enrichment and targeted sequencing applications.

RainDance and Sony will also continue the OEM agreement for the foreseeable future, RainDance said, and the so-called "smart consumables" will eventually be adapted for use on future development areas and instrument systems, including digital PCR and diagnostics, RainDance President and CEO Roopom Banerjee told PCR Insider last week.

"By combining Sony's optical disc, or Blu-Ray, technology with RainDance's expertise in microdroplets at picoliter scales, we've been able to build a truly flexible and scalable … product that can be rolled out across multiple platforms, and across multiple instruments as we continue to grow our business," Banerjee said.

"The Sony product's initial application is for the RDT 1000, RainDance's targeted sequencing instrument that's commercially available today," he added. "We anticipate having similar variations of the smart consumables product on future development programs and future instrument systems, including digital PCR," an area in which RainDance has recently begun to make strides (PCR Insider 1/27/11 and 5/26/2011).

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

RainDance and Sony DADC's BioSciences division began their under-the-radar collaboration two years ago in order to combine Sony's optical disc laser-etching technology with RainDance's RainStorm microdroplet technology, which uses oil and surfactant chemistry to generate picoliter-volume droplets within the microchannels of a disposable polymer chip.

RainDance said that as a single-use consumable, the first HeatWave chips will build on RainDance's existing polydimethylsiloxane design, and will provide a consistent, scalable, and simple workflow for life science research applications such as targeted next-generation sequencing, rare cancer mutation detection, and genetic screening. Each chip will be capable of rapidly performing precise operations, such as generating, delivering, and merging microdroplets, the companies said.

"The Sony technology enables much more rapid and high-throughput scaling on a cost-effective basis for the smart consumables we've developed together," Banerjee said. "In addition, there are some analytical performance improvements, including higher reliability. It's a different material than we had previously been using in our consumable chips. It also provides a certain rigidity and stability to the chip, which we believe customers will like."

The HeatWave chip will support all current RDT 1000 commercial applications, including targeted and ultra-deep sequencing, as well as the company's line of genetic research screening panels: ADMESeq, ASDSeq, XSeq, and HLASeq.

Sony DADC, or Digital Audio Disc Corporation, is a technology and solution provider for optical media primarily in the entertainment, education, and information industries. The agreement with RainDance is expected to help its BioSciences division further its goal of being a premier industrial manufacturing partner for consumables in the life sciences arena.

"Sony DADC is please to collaborate with RainDance to further advance the application of smart consumables in next-generation products and position our OEM business for long-term success in the life sciences and diagnostics market," Dieter Daum, President and CEO of Sony DADC, said in a statement.

In November, Sony DADC and Caliper Life Sciences announced that they had struck a similar agreement to co-develop and manufacture plastic consumables for Caliper's microfluidics products, including the LabChip XT platform for automated nucleic acid fractionation in next-generation sequencing.

Daum further pointed out that Sony DADC's ISO13485 manufacturing environment, polymer manufacturing expertise, and industrial-scale production capabilities are "well-aligned with RainDance's requirements for economically supplying high volumes of robust and reliable consumables at the highest quality."

RainDance's Banerjee also noted that the collaboration with Sony is "further evidence of RainDance building a world-class group of partners in terms of our products, R&D, and supply chain. And we anticipate continuing to work with many organizations, including some of the world's leading brands and technologies, as we continue to expand the set of applications and market for droplet-based technologies."

Have topics you'd like to see covered in PCR Insider? Contact the editor at bbutkus [at] genomeweb [.] com.