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Roche NimbleGen to Make Expression Arrays for High-Throughput Genomics

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By Justin Petrone

Roche said this week that its Roche NimbleGen business will supply High-Throughput Genomics with arrays for use in gene-expression applications.

Under the terms of the deal, Roche NimbleGen will supply Tucson, Ariz.-based HTG with high-density, multiplex arrays. HTG plans to offer the arrays as part of its quantitative nuclease protection assays to enable researchers to rapidly measure gene expression levels in a variety of sample types, Roche said.

Roche NimbleGen spokesperson Kary Staples told BioArray News this week that array supply deals like the one with HTG are part of the company's business strategy. "We are currently in discussions with several customers to provide them with arrays specific to their needs," he said.

Founded in 1997, HTG offers both catalog and custom gene-expression qNPA profiling assays. The core attribute of qNPA is its use of a lysis buffer to release the RNA from the sample, thereby removing from the protocol the RNA extraction, amplification, and labeling steps. The company claims that qNPA can be used on most samples, including cultured cell lines, fresh tissue, and formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded archival material.

To date though, HTG's assays have been run on the firm's microtiter-plate based ArrayPlate platform. By making the assays available on the Roche NimbleGen platform as a service, HTG said it can provide customers with a higher-throughput, multiplex offering. Such a combination means HTG's customers can "derive substantial benefits quickly and we can increase the plex in the analysis process as needed," HTG President TJ Johnson said in a statement.

According to Staples, the HTG deal is the result of Roche NimbleGen's efforts to supply arrays to other companies as well as certified service providers. "This is definitely a part of our business plan and project initiatives for 2009 and moving forward," Staples said.

"Some of these customers are similar to HTG where they will be providing a specific service coupled with their protocol, kits, and assays," he said. "The other discussions are regarding our NimbleGen Certified Service Provider Program to certify microarray processing service providers on our specific applications and arrays," he added.

According to Staples, the firm will not be co-marketing any of HTG's products and HTG will be supporting all of these efforts. Roche NimbleGen will "solely be a supplier of high-density multiplex DNA microarrays for gene expression analysis," he said.

As part of its effort to partner with other companies, Roche NimbleGen last week certified Korea's DNA Link to offer target enrichment. The Certified Service Provider status enables Seoul-based DNA Link to provide NimbleGen's Titanium Optimized Sequence Capture along with 454 sequencing, the company said. The sequence capture method is used for genomic enrichment and uses NimbleGen's 385K Arrays.

DNA Link's services include microarrays, next-generation sequencing, and personal genomics, and it has been selected by Korea to provide genotyping for a three-year genome-wide association study. Staples said that Roche NimbleGen anticipates the certification of "several additional CSPs this year."