Agilent Technologies has signed a technology access agreement to supply DNA microarrays and a microarray scanner to institutes of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Science.
The Netherlands Brain Institute and Netherlands Ophthalmic Research Institute, as well as other institutes, will use the arrays and equipment in a centralized facility.
The Brain Research Institute is planning to use the equipment for research into neurological diseases including schizophrenia, Alzheim- er’s, depression, and nervous system regeneration. The institute will use DNA from brain and nerve tissue on microarrays in order to pinpoint possible genes related to regenerative and degenerative conditions in the nervous system.
“We are looking forward to researching the differences in gene expression between regenerating and non-regenerating neurons such as those found in spinal cord cells,” said Joost Verhaagen, professor of neurobiology at the Netherlands Brain Institute. “We hope, as a result of this research, that we will identify therapeutic genes and through the use of viral vectors, introduce them to non-regenerative neurons, such as those found in spinal cord lesions, to see if they can be regenerated.”
The Ophthalmic Institute will look at hereditary ophthalmic diseases including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinitis pigmentosa. Using the arrays, the Opthalmic Institute plans to develop gene expression profiles for the diseases. The arrays will compare RNA from the retinas of young and old people, as well as diseased and healthy people, and humans and mice. In this way, potential disease-related genes can be identified.
“The ability to quickly print customized DNA microarrays based on genetic structure that we determine from prior research is essential to us,” said Arthur Bergen, head of the department of Ophthalmogenetics of the Netherlands Ophthalmic Research Institute. “It gives us the potential ability to quickly identify, through a process of selection and elimination, the 20 to 30 genes that are believed to cause these diseases and then to replicate these genes on microarrays for further research.”
Other research institutes, including the Institute of Ecology, plan to work with Agilent to develop custom arrays for ecological gene expression studies such as looking at the effects that fish suffer from pesticides and other pollutants.
This deal “is important in that it gives us access to cutting edge research into diseases of the brain and eyes,” said Doug Forsyth, an Agilent spokesperson. The research could potentially lead to brain and eye-disease catalog arrays that Agilent could commercialize for diagnostic or pharmaceutical research purposes.
The Royal Netherlands Academy of Science will order arrays as the research unfolds, and Agilent will create the arrays within a two-week turnaround time. “The agreement is somewhat open-ended,” said Forsyth.