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Market profile: electroporation.

Electroporation is a transfection technique that inserts molecular probes or pieces of DNA into cells by exposing the cells to a rapid pulse of voltage. The electrical field causes pores hi the cell membrane to open temporarily, allowing molecular substances to be integrated into the cell's internal mechanism. With electroporation, there is almost no limit to the size of DNA that can be delivered. It may also be applied to almost all cell types, including dividing and nondividing, primary and immobilized cells.

Electroporation requires special attention: too much voltage can cause apoptosis or necrosis, while not enough voltage will result in poor transfer efficiencies. Electroporation technology has improved significantly over the last few years. Systems are available that allow for higher transduction rates by varying the pulse strength. Researchers can also control important parameters like nucleic acid concentration, temperature, cell density and pulse length.

Electroporation is utilized for cell transformation applications, where plasmid DNA is used as the foreign matter to transform bacteria, yeast and plant protoplasts. But perhaps the most common use of electroporation is for gene silencing. Short strands of interfering RNA (siRNA) are introduced into the cells, where they hybridize with the appropriate complementing segments of the host DNA and halt the expression of the respective genes. Among other applications, electroporation is used to produce knockout mice.

Many companies participate in the electroporation market by offering either the hardware, called electroporators, or by manufacturing custom nucleic acid/siRNA strands. Amaxa Biosystems is a leading system manufacturer. Amaxa's Nucleofactor device incorporates Ere-programmed electrical settings that are specific to particular cell types.

Obtaining higher efficiencies and increased throughput continue to drive market growth. Amaxa recently introduced the 96-well Shuttle, based on the Nucleofactor platform, which is designed for researchers working with primary cells and difficult-to-transfect cell lines.

Sweden-based Cellectricon offers the Cellaxess system, which uses capillary electrodes to directly electroporate adherent cells in the culture dishes where they are grown. The CX1 systems utilize a single-channel electroporation head, while Cellectricon's CX3 System is capable of electroporating three separate wells in a 96-well plate in parallel or simultaneously electroporating three discrete regions in the dish. Other firms manufacturing electroporators include CytoPulse Technologies, Epicentre, Genetronics Biomedical, Nepagene and Invitrogen.

Academia and government account for the majority of the market. However, the pharmaceutical and biotech markets provide the strongest opportunities for electroporation. The current worldwide market for electroporation is $20-$25 million and is expected to post double-digit gains over the next five years.

Electroporation at a Glance:

Leading Suppliers

* Amaxa

* Cellectricon

* Invitrogen

Largest Markets

* Academia

* Government

* Pharma/Biotech

Instrument Cost

* $2,000-$25,000
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Publication:Instrument Business Outlook
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 30, 2006
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