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Promega to Launch New SNP-Scoring System in April

NEW YORK, Jan 4 - Life sciences product maker Promega is planning to step into the increasingly busy SNP analysis arena by launching its Readit SNP scoring reagent system in April, a company executive told GenomeWeb Thursday.

The Readit system includes reagents and Readit calculator software and is designed to work with numerous brands of instruments, according to Richard Schifreen, Promega’s business unit leader for molecular diagnostics. The product is designed as a cost-effective solution for the low throughput SNP-scoring market, not for large volume SNP screening projects.

“The two primary things that distinguish Readit from the pack are its versatility and the ability of users to design their own probes,” said Schifreen. “Rather than sinking money into a system from Promega, the user is free to choose any system based on their budget.”

Using Readit with a Kingfisher from Thermolab Systems and the Turner Reported Luminometer, a researcher can do 24 samples in a batch. A Beckman-Coulter Biomek 2000 with a number of luminometers will allow users to score a batch with 96 well plates, according to Schifreen.

This open platform allows a lab that is doing as few as 20 samples a day as well as labs that are already equipped with expensive instrumentation to avoid spending an additional $100,000 for a high-end robotic system, he said.

Readit uses “post-PCR detection technology” similar to that used in SNP analysis technologies developed by Orchid and Pyrosequencing. Promega sees these companies as well as Third Wave Technologies as its main competitors, Schifreen said.

Specifically, the technology involves hybridizing DNA or RNA probes with phosphorylation chemistry and luciferase detection methods. The probes that complement the target sequence are depolymerized by enzymes in the mix, while those that differ from it are not, according to the company’s patent application, which the US Patent Trade Office granted this week.

For lower-end users, the list price of a Readit kit will run somewhere around $500 for 100 samples, but prices can be negotiated individually for higher-end users.

Promega of Madison, Wis., hopes to market the system in partnership with instrument companies such as Turner Lab Systems, Beckman Coulter, Thermolab, and PerkinElmer. The company also plans to offer the kits and software over its website and to provide web-based customer support to customers that need assistance with instrumentation and probes.

Additionally, Promega has plans to develop a SNP-scoring reagent kit for the forensics market.

”Before you can do a DNA fingerprint analysis, there are legal requirements in most states that you have to show you had an adequate sample for doing the DNA fingerprinting process,” said Schifreen. “An assay based on the Readit technology [would] focus exactly on the quantitation of human DNA.”

Meanwhile, the company is beta testing the Readit technology, and will move forward with its April launch date based on its beta evaluations.

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