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Yokogawa Acquires Nanopipette Technology From US Venture For Use In Life Science Applications
Nov 19, 2019

Low invasiveness enables single-cell injection of target substances and extraction of intracellular materials 

Yokogawa Electric Corporation (TOKYO: 6841) announces that it has acquired a nanopipette*1 technology that was developed by BioStinger, Inc., a spin-off from the University of California, Santa Cruz. This technology is able to target specific locations inside individual cells, enabling the injection of target substances such as genes or drugs and the extraction of intracellular materials. The low invasiveness*2 of this technology to cells enables more detailed analysis of live single cells, organelles, and cytoplasmic components.

1. Background

To observe how cells react to new drug candidate compounds, the compounds are often infiltrated into the cells. However, it can be difficult to confirm that the compounds have passed through the cellular membrane and reached inside the cells. Therefore, there is a need for a technology that can inject experimental substances into cells with high levels of precision. Furthermore, organs and tissues are composed of many different cells, and the occurrence of abnormalities in specific cells leads to the onset of diseases. Since the cells are not in a uniform state, individual cells must be analyzed to identify the cause of a disease and the pathological state. Accordingly, the ability to determine the shape and position of a particular cell and to extract intracellular information from that cell are considered to be useful in clarifying the disease onset mechanism and in researching and developing new drugs. However, until now there has been no established technology that is capable of both obtaining positional information on specific cells in a cell population and extracting materials from those individual cells.

2. Technology Overview

This technology incorporates a manipulator*3 that uses a nanopipette with a tip whose aperture is one of the smallest available for use in the biological research field, and a micropump that uses electrochemical phenomena. This technology enables the injection of target substances, such as genes and drugs, into the target location of a specific cell and the extraction of individual intracellular materials. Furthermore, its low invasiveness enables more detailed analysis of live single cells, organelles, and cytoplasmic components.

3. Yokogawa's Single Cell Analysis Solutions

Yokogawa has been developing single cell analysis solutions since 2014. A single cell manipulator under development uses a micropipette (1 μm is equal to a millionth of a meter), which enables the automatic sampling of single cells that have been selected using a graphical user interface and is suitable for use in research that requires the sampling of a large number of cells.

Yokogawa will accelerate the development of sampling systems that make use of micropipettes and will contribute to research and development in the drug discovery and life science fields by commercializing manipulator products that use this acquired nanopipette technology.