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Invitrogen Positions New Array System for HLA Research Market

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By Justin Petrone

This article has been updated from a previous version to clarify that the instrument is for research use only.

Invitrogen this week expanded its microarray portfolio with the debut of its Prodigy system, an automated instrument designed to help develop immunogenetic tests, such as human leukocyte antigen typing.

Invitrogen, part of Life Technologies, said that the bench top Prodigy should also support the use of HLA typing in histocompatibility research, vaccine and drug development, and disease association studies.

HLA typing is used to determine compatibility between a patient and donor for solid organ and bone marrow transplantation. Invitrogen already offers a number of tools for HLA testing, including PCR and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays.

Invitrogen designed the system to serve "laboratories [that] perform HLA testing ... for vaccine and drug development or disease association," Beth Button, director of marketing for Life Tech's Transplantation Diagnostics Business, told BioArray News in an e-mail this week.

The launch adds to the array-related products Invitrogen currently sells, which includes its ProtoArray protein research platform and its NCode array for microRNA expression profiling. Both are configured to run on instruments sold by other vendors. Through parent Life Tech Invitrogen is also connected to Applied Biosystems, which used to sell an array-based gene expression analysis system until that platform was discontinued last year (see BAN 10/30/2007).

Button said that Invitrogen developed the Prodigy independently of the firm's existing catalog arrays or ABI's array expertise, and said it was in development before the firms closed their $6.7 billion merger last year (see BAN 7/18/2008).

She added that the platform and assay protocols were developed in-house, though Invitrogen relied on a "few licensing partners" for access to components that were incorporated into the overall system. She did not elaborate.

Though Invitrogen customers will not be able to run their ProtoArray or NCode experiments on the Prodigy, Button noted that "relevant proteins identified in one's research using the ProtoArray can be printed and utilized on the platform as a catalog product if a market assessment warrants the development of such a product."

She described Prodigy as an "expansive platform with an ability to build out the product catalog."

Platform and Assay

According to Invitrogen, the Prodigy is 27 inches wide, 23 inches long, and 23 inches tall. It includes a touch-screen for set up and an integrated camera for chip imaging, and enables users to run eight to 96 samples at a time.

Invitrogen said that its chip is scalable to include multiplexing capability for more than 500 analytes, allowing users to incorporate new alleles into their assays as they are discovered. The platform includes Invitrogen's SSO data-analysis software, and will be supported by ABI technicians, the company said.

Button said that Invitrogen will make all assays for the Prodigy. "This is a DNA catalog platform," she said. "No customer protocols are accepted." A catalog protein assay will be launched later in the year, she added.

Invitrogen already has a stake in the HLA-testing market: It offers sequence-specific primers typing, based on a PCR based technique that uses its primers for DNA-based tissue typing. It also sells the DynaChip, a separate instrument for automated HLA antibody screening and analysis in which antibodies are analyzed using a multiplexed ELISA.

According to Button, Invitrogen's main competitor for the Prodigy is Luminex, which sells HLA typing kits for use with its bead-based xMAP technology, which Luminex claims can analyze up to 100 analytes per assay. Other companies, such as One Lambda, offer HLA typing assays using Luminex's technology.

Another HLA-typing competitor is PamGene, which is based in the Netherlands. Innogenetics, a testing lab based in that country and that is now part of Solvay Pharmaceuticals, last year introduced HLA typing on PamGene's 4-MAT array platform. The 4-MAT allows users to process four arrays of 400 genes at a time (see BAN 6/10/2008).

Other rivals may include Germany's Qiagen and ROSE Europe. Both offer kits for HLA typing.

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