Motorola Life Science starts biochip production

TEMPE, AZ—After four years of research and development, Motorola Life Sciences, a business unit of Motorola, Inc., has begun developing biochips that will enable scientists and healthcare professionals to quickly and accurately analyze DNA, RNA and proteins from living cells.

Alastair Malcolm, vice president of the CodeLink biochip product operation for Motorola Life Sciences, says the chipmaker is applying the same kind of ultra-clean manufacturing principles it uses to make semiconductors to make biochips for life science research, drug development and clinical diagnostics.

“Within our cleanroom we have a full [cleanroom] protocol in place because we took the cleanroom [standards] used in our wafer fab and transferred it into the production of DNA chips,” he says.

In fact, Malcolm says a ballroom-style environment that was once used to produce integrated circuits will now be used to manufacture Motorola's CodeLink biochip, which can be used to detect everything from human diseases to contamination in meat.

“We may have the cleanest cleanroom [ISO Class 5] environment to produce biochips in, since what we do is overkill when you consider the environment customers are using them in,” says Malcolm.

Once chips are sent to customers, workers handling chips will need to wear lab coats and maybe gloves, while handling the chips, but not bunny suits, he adds.

One of the biochips, ADME-Rat (Absorption Distribution Metabolism and Elimination) was designed for analysis of the metabolic pathway variations to streamline drug discovery, and analysis of expression levels of genes involved in absorption, distribution, metabolism, elimination and toxicology, according to company information.

“Identifying patterns of differential gene expression is an excellent method to characterize metabolic mechanisms and the effects of xenobiotic induced responses,” a company spokesperson says.

“Since the completion of the human genome project, we've seen an explosion in demand for these chips,” Malcolm adds.

To date, Motorola says it is working with 15 companies experimenting with its biochips, but declined to give their names.


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