Andrew Meehan

With their tiny reaction volumes and parallel architecture, lab-on-a-chip systems promise to lower the cost and raise the quality of life science research. In general, however, only pharmaceutical and biotech firms can afford to use the technology.

Amphora Discovery Corp. is a privately held, drug discovery and development firm based in Research Triangle Park, NC. A spin-off of Hopkinton, Mass.-based Caliper Life Sciences, Amphora is stocked with Caliper's microfluidic systems, which it uses in its search for small-molecule inhibitors of kinases, phosphatases, proteases, ion channels, and other targets.

Among Amphora's 24 instruments are 22 Caliper 250s and two LabChip 3000s. Introduced in February 2004 the LabChip 3000 system (shown here) uses an electrophoretic mobility shift assay format to detect phosphorylation (or dephosphorylation) events, and Caliper offers some 75 off-the-shelf tests for kinases from Abl to C-TAK1. The system may also be used for cell-based assays, for instance,...

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