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Fluidigm and IntegraGen partner to create a genetic analysis service embedded in a France-based demonstration facility
March 2010
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author
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SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Fluidigm, the inventor of integrated fluidic circuits (IFCs), has joined with IntegraGen SA, a leading provider of genetic research testing services, to bring IFC technology to European researchers.
 
"This fills a void in IntegraGen's services," says Fluidigm company fellow Howard High.  
 
At the same time, he notes, the new facility will provide Fluidigm with access to the underserved market for its sample preparation and genetic analysis systems.  
 
"IntegraGen customers who come to the demonstration lab will see that the workflow is as easy and fast as we say it is," High states.
 
IntegraGen will offer premium-class services to its customers using the Fluidigm BioMark System for genetic analysis and the Access Array sample preparation system for next-generation sequencing. IntegraGen's lab will also be a demonstration site for European researchers investigating Fluidigm's technology.  
 
"A commercial operation like the IntegraGen demonstration facility is better for us than an academic lab," Howard High says, "so this venture is important. If people haven't experienced the simplicity of the workflow, it can seem too good to be true."  
 
High expects additional business to result from the IntegraGen collaboration. Currently, the company has only a handful of customers in France.  
  
Fluidigm's instrumentation, combined with its microfluidic-based chips, provides high-performance, high-throughput gene expression, genotyping, digital PCR and sample preparation for next-generation sequencing. The BioMark digital array functions as "the integrated circuit for biology." Reaction chambers and valves are the size of a pencil dot, which contributes directly to the system's stingy use of sample and reagents. The BioMark system is used for genotyping and PCR, while Access Array provides automated next-generation tagging and sequencing. Fluidigm's systems include instrumentation, software and single-use chips. They operate much like silicon chips do in electronics, says company fellow High, which by changing architecture can shift from function to function—gene expression to genotyping, for example.  
 
Fluidigm's latest development, the new 48.770 Digital Array, provides the highest density integrated fluidic circuit (IFC) the company offers, generating almost 37,000 individual qPCR reactions and providing 48 individual sample inlets. The system consists of integrated channels, chambers, and valves that work by partitioning each sample into hundreds of individual PCR reactions. After the sample and reagent mixtures are transferred to wells on the input frame, the mixtures are automatically pressurized into their respective partitioning domains. Up to 48 samples can be tested at a time, with each sample being partitioned into 770 individual reactions. Partitioning results in an increase in relative concentration and a consequent improvement in the detection sensitivity of PCR reactions. For example, if a sample contained only one mutated molecule in 100,000, partitioning the sample into 770 separate chambers would isolate the single mutant molecule in a chamber with only 130 unmutated molecules for a proportional increase in the detection sensitivity of PCR reactions.  
 
"With this partnership, researchers will be able to immediately utilize IntegraGen's services based on Fluidigm technology and enjoy the benefits of integrated fluidic circuits. In addition, Fluidigm will have a demonstration site for our European customers to observe and understand the easy workflow and other unique capabilities of our technology," says Dominique Remy-Renou, Fluidigm's vice president of European sales and support.  
 
"IntegraGen looks forward to extending its business in Europe by providing Fluidigm's technology to its customers. These tools complete the IntegraGen genetic services portfolio and put our lab at the cutting edge of genotyping and next-generation sequencing capabilities," says Emmanuel Martin, director of genomic services at IntegraGen. The new demonstration lab will be "embedded" in the company's genetic services facility, he adds.  
 
IntegraGen's core strategy is to deliver a portfolio of high-value molecular diagnostic products and services that drive personalized healthcare solutions for complex diseases such as diabetes, obesity, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and autism. The genetic services business provides genotyping services to the research community. 

 
Code: E031008

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