Microarray assays on coated hydrogel surfaces for protein arrays
Biotech RandD is typically very expensive and generates a substantial amount of environmental waste. While assays in microarray formats can economize reagent consumption, normally these experimental formats are performed in single use glass or plastic substrates. This type of consumable business involves a substrate specialist manufacturer to sell this product at $20+ per slide.
As a reference at this cost point, to do an array manfucturing run consisting of 30 slides would cost $600 just for the slides. So with a price point like this, to start doing microarrays requires capitalization normally from grant funded research labs or VC backed ventures. Therefore microarrays are more expensive then the standard ELISA technique using microwell plates. There lies the contradiction with this technology .. compared to conventional microwell based ELISAs it economizes material and is more high throughput but normally you need to use high quality expensive slides to get the experimental to work well. So most labs still use ELISAs which consumes alot of materials is lower throughput and consumes alot of plastic.
The motivation behind this was to create a tool for scientists to make their own substrates to do assays on. This solution involves utilizing a casting station for coating solid substrates like glass or plastic at high precision where after the assay has been performed, the coating can be stripped from the solid surface so that the surface can be reused. The coating involves less then 500 microliters of 1% gel (1 gram in 100ml) per slide (25x75mm area).
One of the most common substrate protein microarrays is using nitrocellulose coated glass. So this technique was developed while comparing its performance to that of nitrocelluose. We even experimented with coating these coating hydrogels and demonstrated that this surface has the potential of being more consistent and can retain more material while having a lower background fluorescence then nitrocellulose.
We see this as a opportunity for more labs to get into the protein array business by considering this direction for utilizing a low cost small volume consumable as a substrate compared to glass slides and microwell plates which are the norm for doing antibody based tests.
Drops denoted by white text (i.e, 1 drop = 500 picoliters and 60 rops = 30 nanoliters)