For DNA lab-on-a-chip microfluidic system
Molbot of Singapore has won Dolomite's 2013 Productizing Science competition with a low-cost bench-top Minilab for automating molecular biology applications.
Dolomite’s competition seeks to find innovative microfluidic concepts and give the winner the chance to develop its concept into a commercial product.
Molbot’s Minilab uses microfluidic technology to take traditional sequential manipulations such as PCR assembly, thermal cycling, analysis and purification and perform them ‘on chip’ in an automated way. The concept is to integrate traditional ‘stand-alone’ systems such as imaging, PCR, centrifuge, electrophoresis and pipetting and combine them into one automated system.
The product, which will be used with varied disposable labs-on-chips, representing different applications and will be automatically identified by the machine. Users will load the microfluidic chip and necessary reagents in the machine and the Minilab will execute the required functions for the task, meaning that user input is kept to an absolute minimum. The Minilab will be considerably cheaper than existing technology-driven specialist microfluidic products.
Dolomite said it was impressed with Molbot’s user-friendly and user-focused concept and saw the benefits it would provide to a number of applications such as DNA testing, genotyping, DNA purification and especially plasmid DNA cloning. The latter involves stitching two pieces of DNA strands together to make a new gene combination, which is an important, time-consuming and often failure-prone task. The automated nature of the Minilab minimises the need for user interaction, which saves time and reduces the risk of failure.
Working with Molbot, Dolomite’s engineering expertise and knowledge and understanding of microfluidic droplet technologies will take the winning concept into a commercial solution which will be available from Dolomite’s microfluidic webshop.
Competition runners-up were Amar Basu of Wayne State University, US, who developed a software/hardware solution for measuring and controlling droplet size in real time and Michele Zagnoni, of the University of Strathclyde, UK, who designed a reusable and semi-automated microfluidic architecture for ion channel drug screening. While the Productizing Science competition can only have one winner, both runners-up had concepts worthy of future discussion with Dolomite.