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Potential peptide array: CombiMatrix, Biodesign Institute at ASU seek to develop peptide arrays
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—Continuing a strategy of making its core technology available to a variety of outside research and development organizations, CombiMatrix announced last month that the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University has begun work toward the development of a peptide array synthesizer.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Institute's Center for BioOptical Nanotechnology will buy CombiMatrix equipment and consulting services and will fund the development of the synthesizer. Both entities will share any revenue generated from the peptide array synthesizer, associated products and intellectual property arising from the collaboration.
"We are very excited to be working with the Biodesign Institute," says Amit Kumar, president and chief executive officer of CombiMatrix. "This is a high-profile institute with tremendously brilliant scientists."
Initial efforts at ASU will focus on using CombiMatrix technology to discover potential catalytic action to aid in the creation of hydrogen fuels, but the implications in the drug discovery arena are far-reaching. "This agreement with CombiMatrix is an important catalyst for proteomic-base innovations," says George Poste, director of the Biodesign Institute in a press release. "Our goal is the development of personalized medicines to fight disease and better sensors for environmental monitoring and biodefense."
Neal Woodbury, director of the BioOptical Nanotechnology Center says that using the CombiMatrix technology advances its research years ahead of what they could have accomplished themselves. "It is possible to test tens of thousands of peptides of known structure and test them directly for functionalities that go well beyond simple ligand binding interactions that are the traditional realm of molecular evolution techniques."
Kumar sees big potential for peptide arrays in the market, which would include high-throughput screening of the peptides themselves as potential therapeutics and potential evaluation of the human immune system using epitopes. The potential Holy Grail of developing the peptide arrays could be as an evaluation tool for the entire human proteome.
"There is no human proteome chip. But if you identify the epitopes on all of the proteins, then in principal you could build a whole proteome chip," says Kumar. "By synthesizing peptides of ten or twelve amino acids, which typically are the size of an epitope, now you have an efficient manner of building protein arrays, though that is not going to happen tomorrow."