nGimat Awarded NIH Grant to Further Develop Gene Expression Analysis Technology

February 15, 2005 – nGimat has been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) small business innovation research (SBIR) Phase II grant entitled, Optical Chip Test for T Cell Function in HIV Patients. This $1.46 million, 2-year project aims to develop a research platform to provide real-time gene expression analysis by performing multiplex on-chip nucleic acid amplification on nGimats proprietary Integrated Optic Chip (IOC) technology. This approach, on-chip real-time amplification detection (OCRAD), is based on the measurement of refractive index changes produced by on-chip hybridization and primer extension reactions. The index change results from the binding of the detected species onto a nanolayer of a single molecule thickness. Consequently, neither labeling with fluorescent dyes or radioisotopes or the use of specialized reagents such as molecular beacons will be required, and the testing can be carried out in a single step without intermediate wash steps or post-amplification fluorescent read-out steps. This approach should provide a research platform for gene expression analysis that is simpler, cheaper and more flexible to use than existing technologies. The technology will be developed and used during the Phase II program to examine changes in gene expression in human memory CD8 T cells as a result of chronic HIV infection in order to identify genes associated with immunological function. Gene expression analysis based on OCRAD should provide a valuable laboratory tool for AIDS researchers worldwide. Upon successful demonstration, the developed technology may be applied to many areas of nucleic acid analysis, such as cancer diagnosis, drug discovery, autoimmune diseases, pharmacogenomics, pathogen identification and biodefense.