Yokogawa Acquires Nanopipette Technology from US Venture for Use in Life Science Applications

Tokyo, Japan - November 12, 2019

Yokogawa Electric Corporation (TOKYO: 6841) announces that it has acquired a nanopipette*1 technology that was developed by BioStinger, Inc., a spin-off from the University of California, Santa Cruz. This technology is able to target specific locations inside individual cells, enabling the injection of target substances such as genes or drugs and the extraction of intracellular materials. The low invasiveness*2 of this technology to cells enables more detailed analysis of live single cells, organelles, and cytoplasmic components.


To observe how cells react to new drug candidate compounds, the compounds are often infiltrated into the cells. However, it can be difficult to confirm that the compounds have passed through the cellular membrane and reached inside the cells. Therefore, there is a need for a technology that can inject experimental substances into cells with high levels of precision. Furthermore, organs and tissues are composed of many different cells, and the occurrence of abnormalities in specific cells leads to the onset of diseases. Since the cells are not in a uniform state, individual cells must be analyzed to identify the cause of a disease and the pathological state. Accordingly, the ability to determine the shape and position of a particular cell and to extract intracellular information from that cell are considered to be useful in clarifying the disease onset mechanism and in researching and developing new drugs. However, until now there has been no established technology that is capable of both obtaining positional information on specific cells in a cell population and extracting materials from those individual cells.

Technology Overview

This technology incorporates a manipulator*3 that uses a nanopipette with a tip whose aperture is one of the smallest available for use in the biological research field, and a micropump that uses electrochemical phenomena. This technology enables the injection of target substances, such as genes and drugs, into the target location of a specific cell and the extraction of individual intracellular materials. Furthermore, its low invasiveness enables more detailed analysis of live single cells, organelles, and cytoplasmic components.

Yokogawa's Single Cell Analysis Solutions

Yokogawa has been developing single cell analysis solutions since 2014. A single cell manipulator under development uses a micropipette (1 μm is equal to a millionth of a meter), which enables the automatic sampling of single cells that have been selected using a graphical user interface and is suitable for use in research that requires the sampling of a large number of cells.

Yokogawa will accelerate the development of sampling systems that make use of micropipettes and will contribute to research and development in the drug discovery and life science fields by commercializing manipulator products that use this acquired nanopipette technology.

BioStinger, Inc.

Founded in 2014 as a spin-off from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Professor Nader Pourmand, one of the founders and the inventor of this technology, is an authority in the single cell analysis field.

*1 A pipette is a tube for injecting and aspirating a minute amount of liquid and solid. A nanopipette is a tube with a tip diameter from 1 nm to less than 1,000 nm. One nanometer (nm) is equal to one-billionth of a meter. A nanopipette also refers to a tube whose injection/aspiration volume is nanosized.
*2 Not causing much physical damage to a living organism. This term is used in the medical and biological fields.
*3 A device that performs an operation instead of a human operator


About Yokogawa

Founded in 1915, Yokogawa engages in broad-ranging activities in the areas of measurement, control, and information. The industrial automation business provides vital products, services, and solutions to a diverse range of process industries including oil, chemicals, natural gas, power, iron and steel, and pulp and paper. With the life innovation business, the company aims to radically improve productivity across the pharmaceutical and food industry value chains. The test & measurement, aviation, and other businesses continue to provide essential instruments and equipment with industry-leading precision and reliability. Yokogawa co-innovates with its customers through a global network of 113 companies spanning 60 countries, generating US$3.6 billion in sales in FY2018. For more information, please visit www.yokogawa.com.

The names of corporations, organizations, products, services and logos herein are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Yokogawa Electric Corporation or their respective holders.

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