News | June 5, 2000

Companies Granted $3 Million to Develop New Microfluidic System

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research and development organization of the Department of Defense, has awarded ACLARA BioSciences Inc. (Mountain View, CA) and Cepheid (Sunnyvale, CA) a $3 million grant. The companies will use the funding to co-develop an integrated microfluidic system designed to perform automated measurements to simultaneously detect biological agents or genetically engineered variants.

The system will combine Cepheid's proprietary microfluidic-based sample preparation technology with ACLARA's novel assay chemistries and microfluidic processing technology. The companies will integrate the two technologies to perform complete measurements on ACLARA's plastic LabCard chips.

The chief executives of both companies were excited about the prospects of the collaborative effort. Joseph M. Limber, president and CEO of ACLARA, expressed his company's belief that the technologies developed in the project could have military applications (of interest to DARPA), as well as applications in multiple areas of life science research, such as gene expression analysis and high-throughput drug screening.

Cepheid's chairman and CEO, Thomas Gutshall, stated that the combination of Cepheid's and ACLARA's technologies will "open new avenues to integrate and accelerate a variety of diagnostic tests that are expected to address the emerging pharmacogenomics market."

ACLARA BioSciences is a developer of microfluidic lab-on-a-chip technology, currently developing advanced tools for drug discovery and genomics using its proprietary microfluidics array technology and assay chemistries.

Cepheid is applying proprietary microfluidic and microelectronic technologies to the development of fast, versatile, miniaturized systems that can perform all the steps required to analyze complex biological samples—including sample preparation, amplification, and detection—with a single platform.

For more information: Wendy Hitchcock, ACLARA BioSciences Inc., 1288 Pear Ave., Mountain View, CA 94043. Tel: 650-210-1200. Thomas L. Gutshall, Cepheid, 1190 Borregas Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94089-1302. Tel: 408-541-4191, ext. 229.

Edited by Jim Pomager