Method and Device for Producing Spectrally Encoded Microbeads for Use in Multiplexed Diagnostics or Research Assays

Tech ID: 22827 / UC Case 2012-153-0


Multiplex assays are extremely useful in biomedical research for producing genomic and proteomic data.  The ability to translate novel biomarkers for various diseases into new diagnostic multiplex assays is highly attractive from a drug discovery point of view.  However, the actual execution of creating such high-throughput multiplex assays remains challenging, as they require the ability to reliably track the identity and location of individual probes throughout an experiment.  One way of accomplishing this is by using encoded beads, where uniquely identifiable beads are attached to each individual probe.  Spectral encoding is a popular method of encoding beads and involves mixtures of luminescent materials that emit light at different wavelengths in order to generate distinguishable output signatures.  Typically, however, this approach is limited by low photostability and small numbers of usable unique codes.  In order to accelerate the discovery of new biomarkers for drug discovery purposes, there is a need for a more efficient and cost-effective method of creating encoded beads for high-throughput multiplex assays.     

Technology Description

UCSF investigators have developed a low-cost, highly efficient device and method for making luminescent microbeads that can be used in multiplexed diagnostics or research assays.  The spectrally encoded fluorescent beads contain multiple nanophosphors, which have many advantages over the organic dyes used in the commercially available Luminex® bead system. The nanophosphors have high photostability and are less prone to bleaching, chemical, or oxidative damage to their emission characteristics over time.  The beads are generated using an automated microfluidic device that mixes predetermined ratios of nanophosphors suspended in monomer, followed by photopolymerization.  The resulting beads are uniquely identifiable and can be distinguished from each other with a low error rate (less than 0.1%).  Additionally, the technology can be extended to a large number of codes, in the range of 106 - 107 spectral barcodes (compared to the 500 unique codes offered by Luminex), which could pave the way as a new platform technology for high-throughput multiplex assays. 


  • Potential to create billions of spectrally encoded fluorescent beads for use as “barcodes” in multiplex assays. 
  • Low error rate (< 0.1%) associated with distinguishing between individual codes. The advantages of bead-based, multiplex assays are manifold, including: 
    • Faster reaction kinetics 
    • Increased assay flexibility 
    • Improved reproducibility 
    • Decreased costs

Related Materials

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
Germany Issued Patent 602013027930.6 10/11/2017 2012-153
European Patent Office Issued Patent 2888392 10/11/2017 2012-153
France Issued Patent 2888392 10/11/2017 2012-153
United Kingdom Issued Patent 2888392 10/11/2017 2012-153
United States Of America Published Application 20150192518 07/09/2015 2012-153
Canada Published Application 2012-153


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Other Information


fluorescent beads, barcode, multiplex assays

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