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OGT Debuts Molecular Testing Panels Designed With Emory; Says More Planned


By Justin Petrone

Oxford Gene Technology this week augmented its suite of CytoSure cytogenetic-research tools by adding a new molecular-testing array panels co-developed with Emory University.

The new tests, which are manufactured by Agilent Technologies, come at a time when other array firms serving the cytogenetics market are also adding to their offerings.

With its new additions, OGT now offers molecular-testing arrays and panels that can be used to detect copy-number variations within genes linked to a variety of disorders. The first three defined arrays in the new offering cover autism and mental retardation, in-born metabolic disorders and neuromuscular dystrophy.

But James Clough, OGT's vice president of clinical & genomic solutions, said he thinks there will be more.

"The field of molecular testing is advancing rapidly as new discoveries take place linking gene defects with disease," Clough told BioArray News this week. "As a result, it is highly likely OGT will further expand the CytoSure molecular testing product and service range as we go forward."

According to OGT, each gene on one of its new arrays is targeted via multiple exon-specific probes. If required, a single customized array can screen for multiple diseases, OGT said.

The new tests are available in two formats: slides containing eight arrays of 60,000 probes or slides containing four arrays of 180,000 probes.

The three defined arrays were designed in collaboration with researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Each array was verified and validated by the Emory geneticists to "ensur[e] there are no gaps in gene coverage and that each probe performs optimally," OGT said in a statement.

Madhuri Hegde, scientific director at Emory Genetics Lab and assistant professor at the university, said in a statement that Emory chose to partner with OGT because of its "experience and expertise" in optimizing the design of microarrays.

Clough said that the new arrays "simplify disease-related CNV detection," adding that the company's CytoSure Interpret Software provides information on related syndromes, genes, exons, CNVs, and recombination hotspots.

OGT's cytogenetic-testing menu consists of a number of different arrays, including a suite of CytoSure arrays based on the International Standards for Cytogenomic Arrays consortium consensus design; arrays specifically focused on chromosome X; an aneuploidy array developed with Joris Vermeesch, head of the Laboratory for Cytogenetics and Genome Research at the University of Leuven in Belgium; and an array focused on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy that was designed with Emory's Hegde.

Clough said that it was OGT's strategy to make arrays designed with "leading clinical genetics organizations and researchers" available to its clients.

"We combine our acknowledged expertise in microarray design with the extensive disease-specific knowledge of our partners to develop the most useful and innovative tools for clinical genetic testing," said Clough. OGT has also worked with Emory on its line of ISCA-designed arrays, he noted.

OGT decision to expand its product line is mirrors menu additions at other shops in the industry, where the list of themed arrays continues to grow. Indeed, companies that had once served the cytogenetics market exclusively with screening tools have recently branched out into oncology testing, while other are adding tests for single-gene disorders.

For instance, CombiMatrix Diagnostics recently announced that it would begin offering specific gene mutation testing, and PerkinElmer's Signature Genomics business has been building an oncology offering for several years (BAN 3/18/2011), (BAN 8/16/2011).

According to Clough, OGT will make the new chips available to "leading high-throughput testing laboratories." He said that by grouping related disease areas on single arrays, the Oxford, UK-based company can enable "faster and more cost-effective identification of small intragenic copy-number variations in samples where the phenotype suggests a possible disorder."

Clough said he expects the custom offering to be met with demand.

"Each CytoSure molecular-testing array consists of numerous gene panels covering a range of different molecular disorders," he said. "Although these catalog arrays have been optimized to cover a range of related disorders, there is also demand by some laboratories to combine our validated gene panels into different array combinations to address their specific requirements."

For this reason, the firm is making all of its gene panels available via its CytoSure Custom Array-design service.

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

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