Picoliter Inc. Announces Four Additional Patents on Applications of Acoustic Droplet Ejection

Picoliter Inc. announced today it has been awarded four additional U.S. patents, which extend its intellectual property to include the use of focused acoustic energy (ultrasound) to create miniaturized assay arrays, to generate particles for pharmaceutical and other applications, and to prepare samples for mass spectrometers. Picoliter believes the inventions described in these patents will enable researchers to dramatically improve liquid handling in a broad set of life science applications.

September 19, 2003
Sunnyvale, CA
Sunnyvale, CA, September 19, 2003–Picoliter Inc. announced today it has been awarded four additional U.S. patents, which extend its intellectual property to include the use of focused acoustic energy (ultrasound) to create miniaturized assay arrays, to generate particles for pharmaceutical and other applications, and to prepare samples for mass spectrometers. Picoliter believes the inventions described in these patents will enable researchers to dramatically improve liquid handling in a broad set of life science applications.

U.S. patent 6,612,686 “Focused Acoustic Energy in the Preparation and Screening of Combinatorial Libraries” describes methods for transferring nano- and picoliter volumes of liquids to any surface onto which one or more fluids may be deposited.  This includes microplates, the most common assay format, as well as slides and membranes, which can be used for very low volume, high density screening. This technology is expected to facilitate future generations of cost-effective assay formats for drug discovery, genomics and proteomics.

U.S. patents 6,610,223, and 6,596,206 describe processes for producing small, uniform particles of pharmaceutically active or other materials. Picoliter is seeking partners for further development of this technology for medical and industrial applications.  U.S. patent 6,603,118 “Acoustic Sample Introduction for Mass Spectrometric Analysis” presents approaches for loading MALDI plates with nanoliter or picoliter amounts of sample with no tips or cross contamination.

The economics of industrialized biology continue to fuel the desire for reduction in assay volumes as a way to decrease the cost per data point through more efficient use of expensive reagents and improved automation. However, a major barrier to decreasing cost has been the lack of reliable instrumentation for small volume transfers. The Picoliter® liquid handling technology, covered in the company’s two previously issued and four new patents, provides a unique solution to the small volume transfer problem. This technology has been demonstrated to reliably transfer droplets as small as 0.1 picoliter (a picoliter is a millionth of a millionth of a liter) with no contact between the device and the solution being transferred.

“Our new patents illustrate the breadth and power of acoustic droplet ejection technology and are expected to form the basis of future products in the areas of drug discovery, genomics and proteomics. Even as we are preparing for the introduction of our first product, the Echo 550, which solves the problem of reliably delivering low nanoliter volumes in high throughput screening, the team continues to develop the pipeline of products in additional areas of life science,” said Elaine J. Heron, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Picoliter Inc.

Picoliter Inc. is a privately held company located in Sunnyvale, California.  The Picoliter® liquid handling technology has broad applications in the life science including dispensing equipment, assay systems, sample preparation, particle manufacturing, microarrays, and living cell transfer devices. The company’s first product, the Echo 550, will be a system for precisely transferring low nanoliter volumes of potential drug compounds into assay plates.  For more information, visit the company’s website, www.labcyte.com.