Advanced Technology Program ATP Home Page NIST Home Page

Project Brief

Open Competition 3 - Chemistry and Materials

HPLC-On-A-Chip For High Throughput Chemical Analysis

Develop a miniaturized, high-performance liquid chromatography system on a chip that will accelerate the screening of drug candidates before clinical trials and greatly reduce the costs of drug discovery and development.

Sponsor: Eksigent Technologies, LLC

2021 Las Positas Court
Suite 161
Livermore, CA 94550
  • Project Performance Period: 10/1/2003 - 12/31/2006
  • Total project (est.): $3,197,949.00
  • Requested ATP funds: $2,000,000.00

High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is the most widely used purification and quality-control method in the pharmaceutical industry. But current HPLC instrumentation is relatively slow and expensive. Eksigent will combine previously developed technology - including chip-based micropumps, microvalves, separation columns, and detectors to develop a miniaturized HPLC system that will eliminate chemical-analysis bottlenecks hindering the pharmaceutical industry. In this three-year project, Eksigent will fabricate three HPLC-on-a-chip prototypes, each a few square centimeters in size. The first will refine and combine the building-block components (pumps, valves, columns, and detectors) into a one-channel, gradient, HPLC-on-a-chip. The second will expand the first prototype to an eight-channel high-throughput anaylsis HPLC-on-a-chip for uses such as drug screening; this system will be designed to allow eight different analytical methods on one sample or one method on eight samples. The third prototype will add a second dimension of analysis to produce a multiplexed HPLC-on-a-chip for application to purification of complex samples. The Stanford Nanofabrication Facility at Stanford University (Stanford, CA) will be subcontracted to provide the facility, equipment, and materials needed by Eksigent personnel for microfabricating HPLC components and systems. This project presents several risks: components will need to be microfabricated and tested in a chip format; and high-pressure compatible fabrication methods and connectors must be further developed and tested. In addition, the overall integration of the system components is a high-risk task. Venture capital firms and large pharmaceutical companies have been solicited for investments without success because the technical risk is deemed too high. Without ATP funding, achievement of important milestones may require an additional two years each. If successfully developed, the HPLC-on-a-chip will deliver savings in equipment costs, reagent usage, labor, and space. By performing multiple analyses simultaneously, the multiplexed HPLC-on-a-chip will achieve high-throughput chemical analysis. Accelerated screening of drug candidates will reduce the number of unqualified candidates entering clinical trials, while accelerating the entry of the most promising candidates. Should Eksigent succeed in developing the multiplexed HPLC-on-a-chip prototype, the 96-channel, highly multiplexed version has the potential to become a workhorse for the discovery of new drugs that improve the quality of life for patients.

For project information:
Don W. Arnold, (925) 960-8869

ATP Project Manager
H. Felix Wu, (301) 975-4685

ATP website comments:
Privacy Statement / Security Notice NIST Disclaimer NIST Information Quality Standards
NIST is an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department