WaferGen and University of Pittsburgh to collaborate on SmartChip

WaferGen Biosystems, Inc. has announced that it has established a research collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Medical School to have it serve as the alpha test site for WaferGen's SmartChip Real-Time PCR System.

The SmartChip Real-Time PCR System is designed as the first whole genome, high throughput gene expression real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) platform and promises to deliver significant speed and cost advantages to researchers in the gene expression and genotyping markets.

Under terms of the collaboration, Steven D. Shapiro, M.D., Jack D. Myers Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at University of Pittsburgh, and his team of researchers will leverage the high-throughput real-time PCR capabilities of WaferGen's SmartChip product to support their identification of therapeutically-relevant biomarkers in the areas of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

"We are pleased to announce Dr. Shapiro and his highly-regarded research team as the very first collaborators for WaferGen's revolutionary SmartChip Real-Time PCR System," said Alnoor Shivji, WaferGen's chairman and chief executive officer. "The fact that a scientist of Dr. Shapiro's reputation is eager to incorporate our product into his lab is a true testament to the significant advantages that this product offers as compared to traditional microarrays and real-time PCR. We look forward to supporting the valuable research being conducted by Dr. Shapiro and the University of Pittsburgh Medical School."

Dr. Shapiro is a world-renowned expert in identifying and understanding the underlying biological contributors to pulmonary diseases such as COPD and lung cancer. His laboratory has played a leading role in guiding the path of cutting-edge COPD research including key discoveries related to the biological and pathological function of proteinases. With the goal of uncovering novel and effective pulmonary disease therapeutics, Dr. Shapiro and his team employ a multidisciplinary research approach which the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System is expected to strengthen.

"The ability to perform genome-wide real-time PCR is a great advance in technology," stated Dr. Shapiro. "We look forward to working with WaferGen to test their innovative approach."

About the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System

The SmartChip Real-Time PCR System (TM) is designed as the first whole genome, high throughput gene expression real-time PCR platform and promises to deliver significant speed and cost advantages to researchers in the gene expression and genotyping markets. It is estimated that the genetic analysis market alone (comprised of gene expression and genotyping analysis) had approximately $2.4 billion in worldwide revenues in 2006 ($1.74 billion for gene expression and $650 million for genotyping). Total global revenue for this market is estimated to reach approximately $5.0 billion by 2012.

WaferGen believes the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System will be the first platform to combine the high-throughput capability and cost efficiencies of existing microarrays, with the sensitivity and accuracy of real-time PCR. Specifically, the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System's high density, rapid cycling configuration is expected to provide throughput levels that deliver results at a fraction of the time and cost currently produced by existing instrument systems. For example, the company anticipates that whole genome assay time may be significantly reduced with the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System as compared to several days or months with microarrays or real-time PCR, respectively. This decrease in research time has broad economic implications across the drug development industry, particularly for pharmaceutical companies seeking avenues for reducing time to market for its therapeutics. Further, the company believes such throughput will dramatically impact the cost of such assays.

Beyond the significant time and cost advantages, the simplicity of the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System is unparalleled. The system will provide a number of key ease-of-use features including content-ready chips that can facilitate experiments without the need for advanced preparation of reagents. The user-friendly SmartChip Real-Time PCR System will accept samples out of the box, incorporating nearly all necessary substrates and chemicals. At the same time, the system will only require a very small sample size as compared to other technologies and platforms.

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