Covaris Technology Improves BioChip Performance

WOBURN, MA—January 4, 2001—Covaris, Inc. announces an innovation in microarray hybridization. The microarray industry is predicted to grow to $3 billion by 2003. This is a new application using Covaris’ enabling technology platform for High-Throughput biology. Covaris’ proprietary shock wave technology can dramatically improve the throughput speed, increase sensitivity and reduce the variability of results in all types of biochips.

Covaris president James Laugharn said that “researchers at biotechnology, genomics and pharmaceutical companies using biochips to speed up drug delivery will find this technology indispensable for achieving the best results in the shortest timeframes.” Furthermore, Laugharn said, “as biochips enter the diagnostic market, the Covaris technology will be helpful in meeting the tight requirements for FDA approval of new assays.”

Covaris, Inc. has invented a novel technique to actively control and mix fluids in microfluidic devices, such as microarrays. The technology is based upon proprietary acoustic field control processes and custom instrumentation developed by the staff at Covaris. These processes are scalable from milliliter to microliter to nanoliter volumes. In addition, the processes are also adaptable to lab-on-a-chip systems.

At present, there are three major steps in the processing of DNA microarrays: spotting, hybridizing, and scanning. Although there have been exciting advances in the spotting (production) and the scanning (analysis) areas, there have been few advances in the actual hybridization (reaction process). In fact current gene expression microarray hybridizations typically take between 16 and 20 hours.

Some of the concerns in preforming microarrays, such as for gene expression profiling, are the tendency of the sample to reanneal with homologous sequences and the tendency to form intramolecular duplexes. Both of these effectively lower the potential sensitivity of the systems. Another concern is that techniques to accelerate the overall hybridization rate in microarray formats are based on increasing the effective diffusion of the target (solution phase) through controlled mixing. This is difficult in small scales. The Covaris process enables both active control and mixing of these small volumes.

Benefits of the Covaris hybridization process on biochip systems are: 1) the overall sensitivity of the assay is increased by using acoustic field control for target denaturation of both intramolecular duplexes and homologous, double stranded sequences, 2) the overall hybridization rate is accelerated by actively controlling the efficiency of the collisions between target (solution phase) and the probe (solid phase) using acoustic field control for fluid exchange, and 3) the process can used in production applications to improve uniformity across an array thereby reducing background and improving signal to noise ratio.

As the microarray technology develops in the next few years from a research to a clinical tool, the requirements for improved precision and accuracy will become important. The Covaris hybridization instrument may become an industry standard to provide active control of a currently uncontrolled process.

High-Throughput applications that require controlled mixing, dissolving or resuspension can be standardized with the Covaris technology. The technology applies computer-controlled shock wave physics to life sciences. These shock waves can penetrate closed vessels and then converge in the mixing zone. The system can accommodate various types and sizes of microarrays.

Covaris, Inc. is a privately held company founded in 1999 to develop instrument systems based on its proprietary biophysical platform.

About Covaris:
Covaris, Inc. is a privately held company founded in 1999 to develop instrument systems based on its proprietary, patent-pending, biophysical technology platform. The technology is based on focused acoustic energy and applications of shock wave physics for advanced and high-throughput applications in biology and medicine.

Covaris, Inc.
14 Gill Street, Unit H
Woburn, Massachusetts
USA 01801-1721
Tel: +1 781-932-3959
Fax: +1 781-932-8705