Siemens takes over development of 'lab on a chip'

23 June 2005

Siemens is taking over the development of an award-winning electrochemical biochip from its partners in the project. In November 2004, the joint development of the biochip technology 'lab on a chip' by Siemens, the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology, and Infineon Technologies received the German Future Prize.

The transfer to Siemens involves patents, a high-tech biochip lab as well as experts with the know-how of silicon biochip manufacture. Siemens aims to bring the chip, known as Quicklab, to market maturity.

Quicklab is a molecular diagnostic system for performing quick tests in clinical routine diagnostics. Since it is suitable for both DNA as well as proteins, it provides for a broad spectrum of applications. It is possible to detect viruses of infectious diseases as well as allergies, hereditary diseases and incompatibilities with respect to medications or transplantations.

The entire analysis system is integrated on a smart card (see picture below) and provides the basis for comprehensive as well as cost-effective analysis methods in clinical routine diagnostics.

Siemens' lab on a chip, called quicklab, a miniature laboratory the size of a credit card. It can automatically extract from blood samples or other bodily fluids the genetic information of viruses, bacteria or body cells and analyze it.

The evaluation system provides information in the form of an electrical signal, making it considerably faster, more robust and simpler as well as more cost-effective than current optical methods used. Today, tests of this nature are performed in large labs with complex analytical systems that are both expensive as well as time-consuming, requiring at times several days for providing the necessary results.

The application of fully integrated diagnostic “lab on a chip“-systems in clinical routines is currently in the start-up phase. However, worldwide market growth is reported to reach up to 20% per annum. The current diagnostic market reaches about one billion euros per year.

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