WaferGen Biosystems, Inc. has announced the formal opening of its new subsidiary in Kulim Hi-Tech Park, Kedah, Malaysia. With the opening, the subsidiary, WaferGen Biosystems (M) Sdn. Bhd., will launch various initiatives to support a number of WaferGen's ongoing SmartChip™ Real-Time PCR System development and commercialization goals.
Most critically, this new organization will oversee several research and development activities related to the SmartChip™ Real-Time PCR System, pursue and establish valuable research and development collaborations with local universities and government-run research centers, and coordinate production of the SmartChip system with WaferGen's Malaysia-based contract manufacturer.
Initial work at the new subsidiary will focus on research and development activities related to the optimization of various gene panel assays to be used with the SmartChip Real-Time PCR system. These assays will have applications across broad clinical and therapeutic areas of focus including various disease targets, as well as toxicology and whole-genome analysis.
To support these research and development efforts, WaferGen intends to work with the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) and the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation Sdn. Bhd. (BiotechCorp) to facilitate and accelerate the operation of WaferGen Biosystems (M) Sdn. Bhd.
Concurrently, WaferGen plans to initiate research collaborations with leading local universities, as well as Malaysia's Genome Research Center. The focus of these alliances will be the leveraging of the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System for the discovery and identification of new, therapeutically-relevant biomarkers.
The research breakthroughs that emerge from these high-value collaborations will provide WaferGen with key opportunities for expanding the breadth of applications for which the SmartChip system and its gene panel assays can be used.
Also in connection with the opening of the new Kulim facility, WaferGen announced that it has entered into a contract manufacture agreement with Pentamaster Corporation Berhad for production of the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System. Pentamaster, a Penang, Malaysia-based company will be responsible for the production of the final SmartChip system. Coordination of all production activities by Pentamaster will be handled by the team at WaferGen Biosystems (M) Sdn. Bhd.
WaferGen recently announced the completion of the alpha version of its SmartChip™ Real-Time PCR System, as well as proprietary oncology gene panel assays to be used with the system. The system has the capacity to conduct 33,750 assays on a single chip. Additionally, each of the system's wells is designed to support a real-time PCR reaction of 100 nanoliters. This represents a 1,000 fold decrease in the amount of reagent and sample required by today's standard real-time PCR technologies.
The company is presently continuing its work on the development of additional proprietary assays for the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System, including those focused in the area of toxicology.
At the same time, the company is also developing an enhanced version of the system that will enable users to conduct 100,000 assays on a single chip. This will provide the opportunity for researchers to use one chip to conduct whole genome gene expression in triplicate.