Affymetrix will soon debut new QuantiGene kits for gene and microRNA expression analysis, according to a company official.
Chief Commercial Officer Andy Last told BioArray News recently that the firm is working to expand its QuantiGene ViewRNA offering while preparing to launch new QuantiGene Plex kits for miRNA expression profiling. The expansion of the QuantiGene product line, gained through the GeneChip makers' 2008 purchase of Panomics, is part of an overall company effort to diversify its business.
"Microarrays are the core of our business," Last said, "but new platforms are needed."
Affymetrix launched QuantiGene ViewRNA Assay formats to support in situ multiplex gene expression analysis earlier this year (BAN 7/26/2010). The branched DNA-based assays quantitate gene expression while localizing RNA trafficking within the cell at the single-copy level, according to the firm. The five-hour assay is capable of multiplex gene expression in 96- or 384-well formats for high-throughput phenotypic and reporter gene compound screening.
Beyond expression, Affy claims QuantiGene ViewRNA can be used in other applications, including quantifying target mRNA following RNAi gene silencing; biomarker validation testing; stem cell characterization, differentiation, and quality control; viral host cell interactions; and validating microarray gene expression results.
According to Last, the company wants to build a broader library of probe sets to quickly suit customers' needs. "Right now, the library is just being built," said Last. "The people who are using it are asking us to design the probes they want and it's a quick turnaround time," he said, noting that turning around probes for QuantiGene ViewRNA typically takes a week. "In a sense, it's not that different to the PCR world, just ordering a TaqMan assay for any gene of interest," Last added.
Additionally, Affy is looking to expand the ViewRNA application, Last said. Using the current kit, customers can image four colors per cell, but the company is aiming to make it possible to image nine colors per cell. All of these upgrades should become available in 2011, he said.
While Affy invests in QuantiGene ViewRNA, it is also building out its QuantiGene Plex platform to support miRNA expression profiling. QuantiGene Plex assays enable customers to quantitatively measure multiple RNA targets simultaneously using any of Luminex's instruments. The assays allow RNA to be quantitated directly from cultured cells; whole blood; or fresh, frozen or formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue, according to the firm.
According to Last, the new assays, scheduled to launch by the end of this year, will match probe on probe on the company's miRNA microarray. He said the assays could be useful "if you are doing a classical microarray study and find miRNAs of interest, and you want to do more focused studies."
While Last acknowledged TaqMan as a "major competitor," he said that QuantiGene can measure up to 36 RNA targets at a time and that the company plans to raise that number. He also stressed the ability of the assay to work with "more difficult samples" such as FFPE samples.
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