The Right Active Agent Gets Genes Flashing - Chip from Infineon Makes Pharmaceutical Development Faster and More Affordable

Apr 1, 2003 | Business & Financial Press

Munich, Germany – March 26, 2003 – Infineon Technologies (FSE/NYSE: IFX) today presents a biochip platform that is designed to greatly accelerate the discovery and development of new medical drugs. The core of the platform is a biochip, with a surface of only one square centimeter, which can simultaneously perform tests using up to 400 known genes, providing scientists with a way to more quickly screen and identify substances that are drug candidates.

Infineon developed the silicon chip technology that is used in the Flow-Thru Chip™ with the U.S. company, MetriGenix, Inc. Infineon will market systems that use the Flow-Thru Chip in Europe, while MetriGenix operates in the U.S and other regions. Development of the technology, and Infineon’s market introduction of the system today, marks a major step in the implementation of Infineon’s strategic “Agenda 5-to-1” program, which encompasses the company’s plan to establish itself within the next five years as the number one supplier of semiconductor solutions.

“We expect that new research methods, such as those enabled by the Flow-Thru Chip system, will revolutionize work in pharmaceutical labs in a manner similar to the way that personal computers altered the world of computing two decades ago: Everything becomes smaller, faster, and more cost-effective,” explained Dr. Thomas Klaue, Vice President Business Development at Infineon Technologies AG. “As a partner of the pharmaceutical industry in the field of pharmaceutical research, we want to evolve into a solutions provider over the medium term. With its core competencies, Infineon meets all requirements to serve this emerging market by producing cost-effective, high-quality chips in large quantities for research applications.”

Better chances for treatment, revenue advantage of up to 500 million euros

Currently, pharmaceutical companies typically invest an average of 12 to 15 years into the development and test phase of a new drug. Because every acceleration of this process can improve the patients’ chances for successful treatment, test systems based on the new Flow-Thru Chip make an important contribution to the industry. Using new, chip-based analysis methods, the pharmaceutical industry expects time saving of one to two years in the development of a new drug. For a “blockbuster” drug – a popular, widely used medication – reducing time to market by just one year can mean increased revenues of up to 500 million Euros.

Effective immediately, Flow-Thru Chip systems are available for the study of inflammation, for various types of cancer such as lung, breast cancer, and for diseases of the central nervous system. It is also possible for researchers to customize the Flow-Thru Chip for the study of other conditions through the application of specific genes.

Infineon, through its partnership with MetriGenix, expects to work with industry partners to further develop the Flow-Thru system for diagnostic purposes. The current platform is targeted at applications in research and gene expression analysis, but the technology will lend itself well to future use as a clinical research and diagnostic tool. For example, individual blood samples could be used by a physician to determine a patient’s response to a specific drug.

How the Flow-Thru Chip Works

The Flow-Thru Chip is made of silicon. A special manufacturing process developed by Infineon is used to etch about one million microchannels with a diameter of one tenth of a human hair within a surface of only one square centimeter. MetriGenix adds known sections of genes, for example, genetic material known to change activity in the case of breast cancer, to create probes. The probe material is fixed to the interior of the microchannels, providing a large surface area for the subsequent biochemical reaction. The samples to be examined are treated with a potential active agent and then repeatedly pumped back and forth through the pores in a process that is known as Flow-Thru. In the process, only the matching gene segments of the sample will bind to the probe material. A luminescent dye that is added in a subsequent step will bind to the matched genes and emit detectable light. Captured by a CCD (Charge Coupled Device) camera and forwarded to a computer, the light pattern can be evaluated on the screen.

Once a chip is prepared with genetic material by MetriGenix, the test to determine whether a substance is effective is fast and easy. It compares the light pattern of the healthy sample with the pattern of the treated pattern. If they match, the active agent is judged to be effective.

The results of tests conducted using this new biochip method provide scientists with information to monitor the state of disease progression in samples, and ways to see how genetic structures and a cell’s molecular pathways’ are affected before and after treatment with both currently used drugs and new drug candidates.

The entire system to conduct gene expression analysis using the Flow-Thru Chip is called the 4D Array System™. Infineon is presenting this commercially available platform at the Bio-Analytica trade show (April 1-4, 2003, Munich). The system, priced at about 60,000 Euros, includes a hybridization unit and a detection station with an integrated high-sensitivity camera.

Information about Infineon’s biochip activities can be found at:

About Infineon

Infineon Technologies AG, Munich, Germany, offers semiconductor and system solutions for the automotive and industrial sectors, for applications in the wired communications markets, secure mobile solutions as well as memory products. With a global presence, Infineon operates in the US from San Jose, CA, in the Asia-Pacific region from Singapore and in Japan from Tokyo. In fiscal year 2002 (ending September), the company achieved sales of Euro 5.21 billion with about 30,400 employees worldwide. Infineon is listed on the DAX index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: IFX). Further information is available at

“Flow-Thru Chip” and “4D Assay System are trademarks of MetriGenix, Inc.

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