PI Institution IMAT Award Type
Darren Link RainDance Technologies, Inc. R21

High-throughput sequencing of genomic DNA has gained increasing acceptance as a means to identify the genetic origins of disease. However, whole-genome sequencing of thousands of patients in large cancer studies is not yet practical. Targeted sequencing of specific exons is more practical, but there is a lack of good tools to selectively enrich target DNA sequence from a preponderance of off-target DNA. Current tools for enriching target DNA sequence result in the absence of some target regions, the inclusion of off-target sequence, and the introduction of a bias in the way target loci are enriched. These shortcomings limit the amount of information that can be obtained from sequencing samples prepared with current tools and largely offset the anticipated cost savings. 

RainDance Technologies has developed a microfluidic tool for sequence enrichment that enables highly uniform amplification of target loci without the introduction of off-target sequence. The key to this technology is a library of PCR primer droplets that encapsulate individual primer pairs in 10 pico-liter droplets. These droplets are then combined with 15 pico-liter template droplets to amplify a unique target in a 25 pico-liter reaction volume using conventional laboratory thermocyclers. With processing rates of thousands of droplets per second, large numbers of individual reactions are used to amplify target loci in a simple, robust manner that is uniform across multiple loci and provides a practical, economic solution for sequence enrichment. RainDance commercialized part of this technology in 2009 with the release of the RDT-1000 platform. Dr. Link, Vice-President of RainDance Technologies, was named as finalist for the 2010 Innovation of the Year Award by the Association for Laboratory Automation.