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Product Watch: NanoString Single-Cell Assay; Multiplicom and Swift Bio Mutation Detection Kits

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NanoString has launched the nCounter Single Cell Assay, a single-cell gene expression application for its nCounter digital detection and counting system.

The new application allows users to digitally measure differences in cell-to-cell gene expression profiles, including the measurement of up to 800 unique transcripts. According to NanoString, the assay offers superior performance to standard single-cell microfluidic qPCR.

The single-tube, highly multiplexed assay eliminates sample splitting and frees researchers from the constraints of fixed-format consumables used in existing technologies, such as those offered by Fluidigm, NanoString said.

In side-by-side gene expression experiments using identical total RNA samples, reflecting RNA yields from one to 100 cells, the nCounter Single Cell Assay was able to quantify the expression of 70 percent more transcripts than the Fluidigm BioMark HD system run by a commercial service provider using an optimized single-cell protocol, as detailed in a Nature Protocols paper published in December (PCR Insider, 1/5/2012).

The nCounter system, introduced in 2008, enables highly multiplexed, direct profiling of individual molecules in a single reaction without amplification. NanoString offers nCounter assays for gene expression, miRNA analysis, and copy number variation.


Multiplicom this week launched new genomic and somatic mutation-detection kits based on its proprietary "multiplex amplification of specific targets for resequencing," or MASTR, technology.

The new genomic kits enable PCR amplification of all coding regions of genes known to cause mucovisidosis, Marfan syndrome, Alport syndrome, polycystic kidney disease, familial Mediterranean fever, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy by identifying SNPs, small deletions/insertions, and copy number variations.

Meantime, the EGFR MASTR kit is the company's first somatic mutation detection product for analyzing tumor tissue, targeting exons 18 to 21 of the EGFR gene.

The new kits can be used with all benchtop massively parallel sequencing instruments, including products from Roche, Life Technologies, and Illumina, Multiplicom said.


Swift Biosciences has announced a new addition to its line of myT Primer reagents to detect key cancer mutations.

The myT BRAF-Ultra kit is an ultrasensitive version of the company's myT BRAF assay, and provides 0.01 percent sensitivity down to single-copy detection of BRAF mutations.

MyT BRAF-Ultra can detect fewer than 10 copies of mutant BRAF V600E/K with very low breakthrough amplification from a background of 10,000 wild-type genomic DNA copies. The kits work with fresh frozen and FFPE samples, but may be ideal for applications where sample material is limiting or the target is present in very low concentrations, such as with circulating tumor cells, serum, plasma, and needle biopsies, Swift said.

Each kit includes reagents to assess up to 14 samples when run in triplicate, plus a positive and negative control.

The Scan

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In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.