Long Term Storage and Precision Dispensing of Precious Liquids

Period of Performance: 09/30/2009 - 08/31/2010


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Archivex, LLC
Elkton, MD 21921
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Precious liquid samples such as aqueous genomic DNA are the bedrock for immense efforts currently underway to better understand associations between disease phenotype and genotype. These efforts promise to pave the way to better prevention and treatment of human disease. Many laboratories maintain archives of thousands of such precious samples for years at a time while they pursue better understanding of both common and rare diseases. Current methods for managing precious liquid samples are fraught with problems, including poor inventory control, poor ability to search inventory without directly accessing samples, constant sample concentration changes due to evaporation, excessive time required to aliquot samples, and samples becoming lost, mislabeled, or contaminated with significant frequency. The goal of this project is to develop and commercialize a system for long term storage of precious liquids that eliminates or significantly reduces all of these problems. This system stores liquids in standardized containers with machine-readable tags for unambiguous identification. An automated precision dispenser which does not require pipette intrusion ensures sample integrity while dispensing microliter aliquots of precious liquid. An interface between the dispensing equipment and an archived-liquid database application will allow laboratories to conveniently maintain accurate inventory control and facilitate improved experiment planning. This workflow-based system will increase the efficiency and reduce the error rate of genomic research by ensuring that the precious liquid samples are less time consuming to inventory and access, are contamination-free, maintain their concentration levels, and are correctly and positively identified. When completed, the system will be commercialized by marketing it to life- science laboratories, forensic laboratories and hospitals. In Phase 1 of this project, key inventions were built and tested with excellent results proving feasibility: (1) the compact long-term storage and dispensing container maintains precious liquid in an evaporation and contamination resistant manner;(2) the user-friendly dispensing mechanism can deliver 1-1500l aliquots touch-free with state-of-the-art precision;and (3) a user- friendly archived-liquid sample tracking database application was planned with the input of prospective customers using Agile Software methods. During Phase 2 of the project, the technology risk of manufacturing this novel liquid storage container with unique and permanent identification will be reduced (Specific Aim 1), commercial versions of the semi- and fully-automatic Precision Dispensing System will be designed and built (Specific Aim 2), and the workflow-based liquid sample tracking database will be built and integrated with the storage cartridges and precision dispensing equipment (Specific Aim 3).These early versions of the commercial equipment will be Beta tested in a nationally known genetics core resource laboratory. During Phase 3 using other funds this fully developed novel system will be introduced to the commercial marketplace. Research laboratories in the U.S. and worldwide store thousands of precious liquid DNA samples but use inefficient and error-prone ways to manage them. Archivex is developing an integrated system for storing, dispensing and inventorying precious liquids which will be convenient and affordable, will pay for itself through reduced labor costs, and will lead to improved public health by increasing the productivity and effective collaboration of laboratories. The hardware will ensure the integrity of the stored liquids and enable contamination-free precision dispensing, while the database application will allow researchers to better take advantage of their full sample collection, including more efficient analysis of experimental outliers