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Agilent Will Debut 30 New Expression Chips

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Agilent Technologies will debut approximately 30 new organism-specific, gene expression array products by the end of the year in a bid to capture more business from the burgeoning agricultural biotechnology community, according to a company official.

The product launches come at a time when array platform vendors have become increasingly interested in the agbio sector, which some predict will become a growth area for applications as diverse as gene expression, genotyping, and comparative genomic hybridization.

Agilent in the past has worked alone and with partners to develop chips for agbio customers, such as a whole-genome rice array launched in February, which was the end result of a collaboration with Japan's National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences.

But due to increasing demand from this sector, Agilent will sell chips it would normally manufacture on a custom-order basis. While a full list of the arrays is not yet available, Agilent spokesperson Stuart Matlow says that the new chips will likely include whole-genome expression arrays for pig, sheep, Arabidopsis, rabbit, tomato, soybean, Brassica, tobacco, cotton, and wheat.

Irina Sini, Agilent's genomics model organism product manager, says that the company expects to release "about 30 different key products" for the agbio market by the end of the year. "The list [of new products] comes from the interest that we see in our customer base," she says.

Sini says that the new chips will be made available in Agilent's multiplex array formats, either four distinct 44,000-feature arrays on a slide, or, in some cases, eight separate 15,000-feature arrays per slide. The company will stagger the launches: It expects to have debuted about five in May, 10 in September, and 10 by the end of the year.

According to Sini, Agilent is now looking for collaborations similar to its effort with Japan's NIA in order to produce higher-quality products.

Justin Petrone

Microarray Notes

Genpathway, a San Diego-based chromatin immunoprecipitation, assay services firm, will begin offering researchers whole-genome ChIP-sequencing services on Illumina's Genome Analyzer.

British Columbia-based molecular diagnostics company Med Bio-Gene will develop and commercialize an early-stage, non-small-cell lung cancer prognostic test called LungExpress Dx, discovered by researchers in the Ontario-based university Health Network.

University of Utah and Vanderbilt University researchers will use Affy's Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0 to compare population and longitudinal clinical data to find genetic markers for multiple sclerosis and autism.

Datapoint

9,216
Number of real-time quantitative PCR or other assays that can be performed on an upgraded version of Fluidigm's microfluidics-based BioMark system.

Funded Grants

$450,058/FY 2007
Preprocessing and Analysis Tools for Contemporary Microarray Applications
Grantee:  Rafael Irizarry, Johns Hopkins University
Began:  Sep. 24, 2007; Ends: Aug. 31, 2012

The aim of this study is to produce statistical methods for analyzing genotyping, structural variation, protein binding site, methylation, and alternative splicing microarray data. The researchers propose to develop basic analysis tools for the most popular emerging applications, to develop preprocessing methodology, and to develop general statistical methodology for population-wide hot-spot detection.

$1,572,926/FY 2007
Prenatal Cytogenetic Diagnosis using Comparative Genomic Hybridization Microarray
Grantee:  Ronald Wapner, Columbia University
Began:  Jun. 8, 2007; Ends: May 31, 2012

This study will use array CGH in routine prenatal diagnostic practice and compare its accuracy and efficacy to traditional cytogenetics approaches. Two populations of approximately 4,000 prenatal patients will be followed, and array CGH will be compared to conventional testing for identifying standard aneuploidy and subtle cytogenetic abnormalities. A two-year follow-up study will evaluate the clinical relevance of these findings.

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