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Varian's DNA Analyzer Cuts Test Time And Costs

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PALO ALTO, Calif.--Varian, the newly independent supplier of scientific instruments and vacuum technologies, has introduced a new product, the ProStar Helix system, that the company claims offers a faster and cheaper way to conduct DNA analyses.

The system is a fully integrated biocompatible instrument optimized for fast separation of DNA fragments by size and for the discovery and screening of DNA mutations. The instrument is based on Varian's high-pressure liquid chromatographs (HPLC). The technique allowing HPLC to be used for discovering variations in DNA is called denaturing HPLC or DHPLC.

"Most sizing of DNA today is done by gel electrophoresis," explained Allen Lauer, president and CEO of Varian, who added, "However, DHPLC now offers an automated, fast, quantitative, and low-cost alternative for the immense gel electrophoresis market."

ProStar Helix is priced $25,000 less than competing products and the instrument's speed yields a per-sample cost to the laboratory of less than 50 cents each, contended Lauer. "This compares to $2 to $10 per sample by competing means," he noted.

According to Lauer, the predominant application for the ProStar Helix will be to discover and screen for single-nucleotide polymorphisms. "Large agricultural organizations engaged in scientific studies of livestock and plants are also likely candidates for this technology," Lauer concluded.

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