WaferGen Bio-systems, Inc. has signed a research collaboration with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to evaluate and apply WaferGen’s SmartChipTM platform in single cell sequencing. The joint work is aimed at validating the utility of the SmartChipTM technology for isolating single cells from various tissues and preparing libraries for Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS). Genentech represents WaferGen’s initial partner in WaferGen’s single cell genomics technology-focused Early Access Program.
“We are pleased that our first Early Access Program partner is a pioneering biotechnology company with an outstanding scientific track record of innovation, such as Genentech,” said Ivan Trifunovich, President and CEO of WaferGen. “The development of single cell analysis capabilities is of significant importance in the pharmaceutical drug discovery process, and a substantial unmet need remains for analyzing thousands of cells per sample, and studying individual cells’ responses to various chemical stimuli. The SmartChipTM solution has a unique potential to facilitate the required scale-up at pharmaceutical R&D organizations. We look forward to working with Genentech to validate this approach.”
WaferGen successfully completed separate proof-of-concept studies related to isolating single cells with the SmartChipTM earlier this year with both the Broad Institute and BGI. At the throughput level scalable to several thousand cells per sample, the cell’s genetic composition was successfully analyzed via the NGS method, thereby demonstrating increased discovery potential in a single workflow. WaferGen continues to believe that the SmartChipTM technology will be able to yield a 50-fold increase in the production of single cells per chip versus current technologies at a fraction of the per cell cost.
Single cell measurements have already resulted in critical discoveries of novel cell types that play an important role in disease mechanisms. This type of analysis has the potential to establish a significant role in the development of an approach to disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each person, which is an emerging healthcare trend.
WaferGen continues to expect that the Company will launch its first commercial single cell analysis product by the end of 2015.