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USC Buys WaferGen SmartChip System for Oncology Drug Discovery

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WaferGen Biosystems said today that the University of Southern California has purchased one of the company's SmartChip real-time PCR systems for use in cancer drug discovery applications.

Researchers at the USC Center for Molecular Pathways and Drug Discovery will use the SmartChip system to discover and validate biomarkers for pancreatic and colorectal cancer to expedite therapeutic development, WaferGen said.

USC, which was an early-access customer for SmartChip prior to its full commercial launch in August, has purchased both the SmartChip instrument and validated gene panels for biomarker profiling (PCR Insider, 8/5/10).

"Our work is to identify genes and pathways that are associated with cancer," Michael Kahn, a professor at USC and co-leader of the USC GI-Oncology program, said in a statement.

"We are also attempting to validate molecular signatures based on a large number of patient samples rapidly and cost effectively to enable more targeted clinical trials," Kahn said. "We will use the SmartChip system to help us accomplish our goal."

The SmartChip system comprises 5,184-well consumable chips preloaded with target-specific primers; a single-sample or multi-sample nanodispenser for dispensing samples and master mix onto a SmartChip panel under vacuum conditions; and the SmartChip cycler, which performs PCR thermal cycling, data collection, and amplicon melting.

WaferGen said in August that the US list price for the SmartChip instrument system would be in the neighborhood of $150,000.

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