Toshiba Corporation has announced that it has licensed key patents on DNA chips and DNA detection and analysis to Antara BioSciences Inc. of the United States. The license covers the application of Toshiba-developed and patented DNA chips and electrochemical DNA analysis system to in vitro diagnosis of disease in humans within the United States.
Antara plans to develop DNA chips and diagnostic systems based on the licensed patents and guide the products through the approval procedures of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Toshiba established the Business Development Office at its Corporate Research & Development Center in Kawasaki, Japan in 2001, to investigate promising new business areas. This approach bore fruit in DNA-based diagnostics: Toshiba developed the GenelyzerTM portable, automated DNA detection system in 2003, and, in 2004, a breakthrough DNA chip that was small, highly sensitive, and based on Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technology, the mainstream IC technology.
The patent licensing agreement announced today is a major step toward bringing Toshiba’s electromechanical DNA chip technology to practical use in the US, and toward establishing the technology as a core methodology for DNA-based diagnostics.
A DNA chip is a collection of DNA spots immobilized on a substrate, such as glass or silicon chip, which can be used to genotype multiple regions of a genome by checking whether or not it binds with sample DNA.
Toshiba emerged as an important contributor to pharmacogenomics through its development of an electrochemical DNA chip that is able to analyze and type single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), common DNA sequence variations that can be used to identify genes. Most currently available DNA chips are based on fluorescence detection technology that uses a laser to irradiate a sample and then measures the resulting fluorescence. Fluorescence detection methods commonly suffer from sensitivity barriers due to low signal to noise ratios, particularly with low concentration targets. Electrochemical detection allows for detection without the use of fluorescent (or other) labels and holds the potential for much higher sensitivity and shorter analysis time than currently available methodologies.