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Latin American Researchers Using Agilent Expression Arrays to Study Breast Cancer


By Justin Petrone

A network of US and Latin American researchers will use Agilent Technologies' gene-expression microarrays in a "major" study of breast cancer in women from five countries.

The US-Latin American Cancer Research Network will use the arrays over the next three years to profile gene expression in 3,000 women with stage 2 and stage 3 breast cancer. Its aim is to gain a "better understanding of cancer incidence and mortality in the diverse populations that make up Latin America," according to the network.

The US National Cancer Institute and the ministries of health of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay are current members of the network, which was initiated in 2008. Its goals include increasing cancer research and cancer-care infrastructures in Latin American countries; promoting partnerships among Latin American countries impacting cancer research; and developing resources and expertise for cancer research and high-quality clinical studies, according to its website.

The project will be conducted at two molecular profiling laboratories in Mexico, two in Brazil, and one each in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. The first site is being established at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico, the network said in a statement.

Network representatives could not be reached for comment.

Heidi Kijenski, Agilent's marketing director for microarray platforms, told BioArray News this week that the company will provide the network with custom-expression arrays and instruments, as well as field support.

"Agilent helped create the [standard operating procedures] for the microarray portion of the project as well as participated in the two workshops the US-LACRN has had so far," Kijenski said. "Additionally, there will be wet-lab training for the researchers in June, and an Agilent field application scientist will co-teach this training."

According to Kijenski, the network will rely on a custom Agilent Human Gene Expression Microarray 4x44K for the study. Each array contains four subarrays of about 44,000 probes. Agilent's expression arrays include exon-level measurements and the ability to interrogate lincRNAs, a new class of non-coding RNAs that have been implicated in a number of disease states, including cancer, the firm said in the statement.

To analyze the microarrays, each participating site will be equipped with an Agilent High-Resolution Microarray Scanner, Agilent Feature Extraction software, an Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer with kits for measuring DNA sample quality, and associated consumables, the company said.

The project could benefit Agilent's presence in a region where the company uses distributors, according to Kijenski. She said the firm already has "multiple" customers in the region, including US-LACRN members Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Mexico.

Kijenski also claimed that Agilent is the "market leader in the microarray business" in Brazil, though she did not elaborate. In addition, Kijenski said the firm has had "some microarray business" in Uruguay with the Institute Pasteur's microarray service lab in the capital, Montevideo. The Institut Pasteur is also taking part in the new breast cancer study.

More generally, Kijenski said sales in Latin America of Agilents genomic tools, including its arrays, are "absolutely" growing. In Agilent's fiscal year 2010, which ended on Oct. 31, 2010, sales in the region had "near-triple-digit growth for genomics" compared to fiscal 2009, she said.

Kijenski said she believes Agilent will report "double-digit growth" year over year in the first half of fiscal 2011, which ends April 30.

Agilent is not the only array vendor to see increasing opportunities in Latin America. Earlier this year, Illumina established a sales office in São Paulo, Brazil (BAN 1/25/2011). And in October 2010, Roche NimbleGen certified São Paulo-based Helixxa to be its first service provider in the region.

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioArray News? Contact the editor at jpetrone [at] genomeweb [.] com.

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