Biolog, Inc. has announced that it has received another patent on its Phenotype MicroArray™ (PM) technology, extending the breadth and depth of its unique portfolio of intellectual property. Patent US 9,274,101 was issued on March 1, 2016. The new patent further expands Biolog’s coverage of technology for metabolic and phenotypic profiling of human cells at a very high level of resolution. The claims in the patent cover methods for metabolically phenotyping animal cells, creating multiplexed metabolic profiles, and observing effects of chemicals on metabolic substrate utilization.
Phenotype MicroArrays represent a fundamental platform technology that allows scientists to easily and efficiently test cellular metabolic traits. Performed in standard disposable 96-well plates, hundreds to thousands of tests can be assayed in parallel. The technology has broad applications in research, ranging from high resolution phenotypic profiling to high throughput screening of cells. Although PM technology is a metabolic assay platform, it differs substantially from mass spectrometry based approaches.
Instead of measuring pools of metabolites, PM technology measures rates of metabolic pathways in intact viable cells using a colorimetric redox dye chemistry that couples pathway flux to production of energy (NADH) by cells. Cell energetics drives all cell functions and understanding energy pathways of cells is fundamental to the study of virtually all human disorders. This includes, for example, cancer, aging, neurodegenerative disorders, mitochondrial disorders, cell nutrition, obesity, stem cell differentiation, and immune cell activation.
Energetics based metabolic assays also have direct applications in research and development of drugs by analyzing their actions on cells, in toxicology by analyzing off-target actions on cells, and in bioprocess development by optimizing conditions for production of vaccines, antibodies and other biologics. Furthermore, the PM technology provides a much needed complement to the exciting new CRISPR gene editing technology.
CRISPR provides the means to create mutations and alter or remove genes, but a phenotypic or phenomic technology such as Biolog's PM technology is needed to assay the effects of the genetic changes on the cells. Such effects are often complex and not easily predicted. The Biolog technology provides the means of accomplishing the phenotyping part of Genotype-Phenotype studies. This approach has been proven over a decade and a half of studies using Biolog PM technology to determine the effects of genetic changes in microbial cells and it will be even more valuable as it becomes broadly applied to mammalian cells.
Phenotype MicroArray technology was developed initially for basic research on microbial cells with SBIR funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Subsequently, the technology was extended to work on human and other animal cells with funding from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Mental Health.
The technology has now been commercialized and numerous applications have been developed for bacterial, fungal, and animal cells including human primary cells and established cell lines. More than 400 scientific publications have resulted from using PM technology. As such, it has become a new core technology in research and development.