When Agilent decided to release its latest array tool — arrays for comparative genomic hybridization, or CGH — early this year, the company didn’t waste time figuring out which research field to target. Cancer research, says Lou Welebob, marketing program manager for integrated biological solutions, “is the largest addressable market” for this kind of technology.
That’s because CGH technology in general lends itself to cancer studies, and array CGH is an extension of the older chromosome-scale comparisons, Welebob says. The key difference with array CGH is its capacity “to provide that high resolution to detect very small chromosomal changes” that may not have been apparent with the older technology.
Agilent’s cancer CGH array is based on the company’s whole-genome array format, with 44,000 features on each chip. Because this chip is being marketed directly to cancer researchers, the chip has “three different probes for all the important cancer genes” — about 1,100 all told, says Hailing Sun, also in Agilent’s marketing group.
These arrays would mean little without the informatic tools to handle all the data. In January, Agilent also introduced its CGH analytics software, and Welebob says that market acceptance has been good. “The analytics package, from what we were told by many customers so far, seems to be … very strong,” he says.
Welebob adds that the company is planning to expand features for this cancer array, with plans to release a series of tools that would enable researchers to compare CGH data with gene expression data, for instance. (That particular tool is due out later this year.) Similarly, the company doesn’t see cancer research as the be-all and end-all for this kind of array: “We will be introducing additional array CGH technology to the marketplace,” Welebob says.
— Meredith Salisbury