NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II B2.03-9576
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Understanding and Utilizing Gravitational Effects on Molecular Biology and for Medical Applications
PROPOSAL TITLE: Microfluidic Analytical Separator for Proteomics

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Paul W Todd
7200 Highway 150
Greenville, IN 47124-9515
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

The proposed innovation is a microfluidic device designed to effect a 2-dimensional resolution of a mixture of proteins based on isoelectric point (pI) and molecular weight (MW). The innovation performs tasks similar to those performed by 2-dimensional ("2-D") gel electrophoresis. To achieve 2-D-gel equivalence with minimal complications and maximum exploitation of the advantages provided by microfluidics a novel approach is proposed. In this approach the user dissolves or mixes a sample to be tested for proteins into a sample buffer and injects this into a plastic card consisting of microfluidic channels and electrodes. The card is inserted into a compact "reader" (small enough for space flight) that, within four hours, electronically reports the abundance of each protein detected. In Phase II research SHOT will (1) establish fabrication parameters for the card and manufacture prototypes, (2) build a breadboard reader and (3) test the Microfluidic Analytical Separator using mixed protein solutions. The innovation is useful in detecting specific protein ratio changes in blood or plasma, in extracts of experimental organisms subjected to varying environmental conditions, and in the medium-resolution high-throughput screening of pharmaceutical agents.

The immediate "terrestrial" marketplace is sectored into users in remote sites away from analytical laboratories, educational uses, and high-throughput screening applications in which high resolution is not critical. Eventually some customers may find the proteomics "card" useful in the examination of human plasma for the presence or absence of particular proteins in potentially pathological states, which may open the clinical diagnostics market, which is very large. SHOT's production and sales plans target all of these markets, and SHOT received $70,000 from the State of Indiana to aid in developing the innovation for these markets.

NASA will be an important customer of the innovation. First, the proteomics "card" is useful in the examination of human plasma for normal or pathological levels of some 200 serum proteins to monitor crew health during deep space flights expected in NASA's exploration vision. Second, flight opportunities for molecular biology experiments are scarce, as is the opportunity to return biological samples from space in suitable conditions for chemical analysis. The proposed Analytical Separator will provide electronic data that can be telemetered (real time). The proposed format is disposable, and the reader requires minimal space, power and crew time.