Randox Laboratories will launch in the next quarter a new antibody array product for biomarker discovery. The offering, called the Quantiplasma Array, is designed to complement the firm's menu of more focused screening tools.
Stuart McGregor, a research scientist at the Crumlin, UK-based firm, said the new array is a "very important" product for Randox. "It allows customers to go right into biomarker discovery," he told BioArray News this week. "Most of our arrays are clinical arrays or research arrays, containing, in general, very well characterized biomarkers," McGregor said.
Located in Northern Ireland, Randox has in recent years worked to expand its menu of biochips. Last year, the firm debuted two arrays for metabolic syndrome studies (BAN 8/17/2010) and in 2009 it launched several multi-marker drugs-of-abuse testing arrays (BAN 12/1/2009).
The company currently offers 11 focused multiplex protein arrays and six multiplex molecular arrays and also makes customer-designed chips.
Randox hopes that markers discovered with its new Quantiplasma Array will translate to more custom projects, McGregor said. "Ultimately, we are providing customers with a tool for biomarker discovery and hopefully in the future, if new biomarkers can be discovered through the use of this array, there is an opportunity for customers to have clinical arrays developed very quickly," he said.
Randox introduced the Quantiplasma Array earlier this month. The monoclonal antibody microarray is designed to monitor the level of multiple proteins simultaneously in human plasma. Each kit contains 300 unique monoclonal antibodies and can be used to assess the plasma proteome dynamics of normal and disease state plasma samples for identification of novel biomarkers (BAN 5/17/2011).
According to McGregor, the antibodies on the array have been generated against "normal plasma, a number of different cancers, including breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer, and other diseases including inflammatory diseases and metabolic disorders." Because of this, he said the array offers users access to "quite a range of different disease states and normal proteins."
Ideally, Randox customers will "start with the question of what biomarkers are possible to identify in a disease area and we would suggest that they run the normal samples against their disease pool of samples," McGregor said. "That way they will identify proteins that are differentially expressed between the normal state and the disease state, and that will be the start of their investigation using this array."
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Biochip Array Technology
Randox's internally developed Biochip Array Technology platform is a departure from the high-density chips on the market. The chips are manufactured using piezoelectric printing, with up to 25 "binding agents, either antibodies or proteins," printed per array, McGregor said. The degree of binding is determined using a chemiluminescent light source and quantified using a charge-coupled device camera and imaging system.
As each chip can contain a maximum of 25 antibodies, Randox's Quantiplasma Array will be offered in kits containing multiple chips. McGregor said that since the firm's chips are often sold in racks of nine, Randox has decided to offer 18 individual Quantiplasma Arrays spread across six racks of 54 biochips. Customers will be required to distribute their sample across each of the 18 arrays, McGregor said. Covering all of the arrays will require 5 milliliters per sample.
According to McGregor, Randox recommends that the Quantiplasma Array be processed on the firm's semi-automated, benchtop Evidence Investigator system.
The company is positioning the new array to compete not against other array platforms, but against other protein biomarker-discovery technologies, such as mass spectrometry.
In a statement earlier this month, Randox referred to mass spec as an "expensive and laborious method, with limitations in reproducibility and sensitivity due to the wide range of protein concentrations in plasma and extensive processing requirements." The firm also said the Quantiplasma Array offers an "alternative to complex and costly proteomics approaches," bringing the "protein biomarker discovery process to any laboratory."
McGregor said this week that the firm does not to intend to offer any additional arrays for discovery at this time. "In terms of discovery-related arrays, this will be the main launch on that side," he said.
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