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Korea's Panagene Adds miRNA Array Lines for Cancer, Stem-Cell Research

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This story was originally published on August 7.

By Justin Petrone

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Panagene, a nine-year-old life-sciences firm specializing in peptide nucleic-acid products, this month launched a kit for profiling microRNAs in stem cells, according to a company official.

Dalsoo Kim, marketing director for the Daejeon, Korea-based firm, said the company now sells a PANArray miRNA expression-profiling kit for surveying stem cell-related miRNAs. The launch follows the debut of a kit for profiling cancer-related miRNAs in June.

Kim spoke to BioArray News during Select Biosciences' Microarray World Congress, held here last week. Panagene exhibited at the conference.

Though the company sells a few other array kits, such as a PANArray HPV genotyping kit for identifying different strains of human papillomavirus, as well as custom PANArrays, Panagene has to date mostly focused on selling services related to its experience in peptide nucleic acids, Kim said.

"MiRNA is the hottest area in molecular biology right now," Kim said, explaining the firm's rationale for entering a market that is dominated by firms such as Exiqon, Agilent Technologies, Febit, Affymetrix, Illumina, and Life Technologies' Invitrogen division.

According to Kim, what sets Panagene's arrays apart from competitors’ is their use of PNA. PNA is a nucleic acid analogue that mimics DNA. The negatively charged sugar phosphate backbone of a DNA molecule is replaced with a neutral one consisting of repeated N-(2-aminoethyl) glycal units linked by peptide bonds, features that make the molecule "more chemically and biologically stable than DNA," he said.

While Panagene's service business is still its main focus, Kim said that Panagene will add more array kits in the future to serve clients who prefer to run the chips in house. "We will keep adding PNA-based kits as there is a good opportunity for practical industrial use," he said.

The next PANArray in the pipeline will offer cytochrome P450 genotyping for drug metabolism studies, he said. He did not discuss a launch date for the new product.

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