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Challenging Array Dominance, NanoString Launches Panel for Molecular Karyotyping

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This story was originally posted March 2.

By Justin Petrone

NanoString Technologies recently introduced its first fixed-panel assay for the detection of human genetic abnormalities. The firm is positioning the nCounter Human Karyotype Panel as a faster, less expensive alternative to microarray-based approaches.

Chris Grimley, vice president of marketing at Seattle-based NanoString, told BioArray News this week that the firm's platform supports molecular karyotyping in a "simplified workflow that, with less than 5 minutes of hands-on time, allows researchers to monitor aneuploidy for all 24 human chromosomes in a single reaction at a lower cost than array-based methods."

The new karyotype panel detects the "same types of chromosomal abnormalities as array-based methods, but differs in that it has higher reproducibility and lower resolution," Grimley added. He did not discuss pricing for the panel.

NanoString's nCounter Analysis System is designed to enable researchers to measure gene expression in a multiplexed fashion using color-coded molecular barcodes, and single-molecule imaging to detect and count hundreds of unique transcripts in a single reaction. The 8-year-old firm has launched applications for gene- and microRNA-expression profiling, and, most recently, copy number analysis (BAN 11/2/2010).

The new karyotype assay is the first fixed panel launched by the company for copy number analysis. NanoString claimed in a statement that the panel can be used to accurately quantify chromosome number and detect aneuploidy. The firm claims that its new assay is ideal for monitoring human-derived samples and cell lines for chromosomal abnormalities. The Human Karyotype Panel is intended solely for research use.

"The karyotype panel is based on our copy number variation assay which accurately quantitates [double-stranded] DNA," said Grimley. He added that NanoString is evaluating a number of panel ideas for copy number variation as well as other applications that rely on quantitation of DNA, such as validation of next-generation sequencing results.

Ultimately, the firm's strategy is focused on "identifying areas where the unique features of the nCounter platform can provide a material improvement in performance, cost, and workflow for analyses," said Grimley. He said that NanoString has been "approached by a growing number of researchers in both large and smaller labs" seeking applications for CNV and next-generation sequencing analysis.

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