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Agilent Upgrades Target-Enrichment Offering as Most Customers Choose Solution Method over Chips

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By Justin Petrone

Agilent Technologies last week began offering its SureSelect Human All Exon 50 Mb Target Enrichment kit for next-generation DNA sequencing. The kit, developed together with researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, enables researchers to sequence the expressed genome while discarding regions that are not of interest.

According to Agilent, scientists from the Wellcome Trust and the Gencode consortium added 12 megabases of new content to the firm's existing SureSelect Human All Exon kit for a total of approximately 50 Mb. Researchers at the Wellcome Trust and members of the International Cancer Genome Consortium have been using the new kit on an early-access basis for about a year.

Emily LeProust, director of applications chemistry R&D for Agilent's genomics group, told BioArray News this week that the company is making the new kit available in solution to customers. While Agilent is contemplating offering the new content in an on-array format, the firm believes most customers will be served by its in-solution kit.

"We are evaluating customer demand" for an on-chip offering, "however, this new All Exon 50Mb design is available in a kit configuration of five reactions, so the in-solution approach has a universal appeal," LeProust said.

"Customers with small projects or with a need for iterative designs have been using our on-array solution," she added. "Typically, for a project with 10 samples or more, the in-solution approach is preferred from an ease of use, performance, and cost point of view," she said.

Agilent launched its SureSelect target enrichment system in February 2009. The company initially offered customers an in-solution customer-specified mixture of up to 55,000 biotinylated RNA probes delivered in a single tube. In June 2009, the firm began offering on-array resequencing (BAN 7/14/2009).

The firm competes in the market against companies like Roche NimbleGen, which also offers in-solution and on-array sequence-capture options for customers. Last month, Eurofins MWG Operon and Genomatix also launched a human exome array based on Roche NimbleGen sequence capture technology. Febit, which had offered sequence capture products and services under the HybSelect brand, exited the market in June following an internal restructuring (BAN 6/29/2010).

According to LeProust, there is currently a "large demand for exome capture." She said that exome resequencing enables "very rapid discovery and publication since many more samples can be run per sequencer, so it is more efficient than whole-genome sequencing." In addition to exome sequencing,

LeProust said that many users are also interested in profiling only small regions where indexing enables them to run between 96 and 128 samples per run. "Targeted resequencing adds tremendous value in increasing the sample throughput per sequencer," she said.

Agilent also announced this week that the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute has standardized on the Agilent SureSelect Target Enrichment system for its next-generation sequencing work.

Cordelia Langford, head of genome analysis production at Wellcome Trust, said in a statement that the institute's sequence-capture pipeline is "central to delivering the institute's research into understanding gene function," and that it is "essential that the pipeline delivers reproducibly high-quality and efficiently processed samples for this important work."

NimbleGen similarly announced last week that Baylor College of Medicine's Human Genome Sequencing Center has standardized its target-enrichment human disease research studies on its Sequence Capture Exome technology (BAN 8/3/2010).

Baylor plans to sequence more than 5,000 exomes in the next two years to identify genetic variants underlying multiple human diseases. The center will use NimbleGen's SeqCap EZ Exome and customized NimbleGen exome designs as its exome-capture technology of choice, according the firm.

Agilent now offers 14 products in the SureSelect portfolio, and has "many more in development," LeProust said. SureSelect products are available for enrichment of target sizes ranging from smaller than 200 kb to more than 50 Mb in a single tube. Protocols now support Illumina end sequencing, paired-end sequencing, and indexing protocols in addition to fragment library format, paired-end sequencing, and barcoding on the Life Technologies Applied Biosystems SOLiD System, the company said.

LeProust said that while Agilent considers the 50 Mb offering to be "comprehensive," the firm in the future will enable customers to customize their 50 Mb target enrichment kits using the company's online eArray tool. "Our catalog products are customizable so any customer-relevant regions, exons or otherwise, can be added to a catalog design," she said.

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