WaferGen Biosystems, Inc. announced that academic researchers have successfully demonstrated the performance of the company’s SmartChip Real-Time PCR System in the initial phase of the platform’s ongoing alpha testing program. Initial tests conducted at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have demonstrated a number of the SmartChip system’s key analytical specifications, showing the product’s complete workflow on 1,000 oncology genes using small amounts of samples from emphysema, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and healthy patients. Key workflow elements that have been successfully demonstrated include primer-ready SmartChips and the drying and reconstitution of primers for rapid high-throughput 100 nL real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Additionally, the platform’s ability to perform PCR in nano-volumes without any pre-amplification has been demonstrated using various control genes, as well as indicators of other genes that are known to be expressed in patient samples. The next phase of the alpha testing program will focus on using the SmartChip system to identify biomarkers of interest. Upon completion of the ongoing alpha testing program, data will be presented and/or published in appropriate academic venues. “The successful demonstration of the performance of the revolutionary SmartChip system in a rigorous research setting is a tremendous step forward for this novel platform. We are particularly excited that the platform has shown the ability to capture the expression of genes that have not been able to be seen using microarrays,” stated Alnoor Shivji, WaferGen's chairman and chief executive officer. “We expect that this is just the first milestone related to the SmartChip alpha testing program and look forward to new findings on biomarker discovery and validation.” The SmartChip alpha testing program involves the study of RNA isolated from lung tissue samples from healthy patients, as well as patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and IPF. Researchers are screening these RNA samples with the SmartChip Real-Time PCR System in order to assess the platform’s performance in conducting novel gene expression research.