WARF: P00224US

Microfabricated Microbial Growth Assay Method and Apparatus


Daniel van der Weide, Frederick Blattner

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a microbial growth assay that can be used to rapidly screen potential antibiotics.
OVERVIEWThe growth assay is the simplest, most direct measurement of drug efficacy, and is the primary path for discovering antimicrobial drugs. However, most growth assays use relatively large volumes of liquid, leading to slow response times. Faster techniques are needed to screen the thousands to millions of samples that are potential new sources for antibiotics.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a microbial growth assay that can be used to rapidly screen substances for their effect on cell growth. The invention includes microbial growth assay wells containing 30 microliters or less of liquid. Two electrodes are placed in each well to measure the capacitance across the liquid. Capacitance or resistance in each well is used to determine the extent of bacterial growth.

This technology represents a significant improvement over commercially available growth assays, most of which rely on flow-through chambers, large sample sizes and long incubation periods. It should provide an economical way to screen potential antibiotics on a massive scale.
  • Antibiotic screening
  • Allows very high throughput: projected to allow analysis of thousands to tens of thousands of target samples per day
  • Cost effective: requires very small volumes of bacteria and growth media
  • Can be scaled down to manipulate and screen sub-visible particles, such as viruses
  • Assays of bacterial growth can be carried out in a few hours or less (current growth assay technology takes hours to days).
  • The technology can test a wide variety of substances for their effect on bacterial growth.
  • Allows the evaluation of substances that are in limited supply
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Jennifer Gottwald at or 608-960-9854.
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