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Agilent, Integrated DNA Technologies to Co-Market qPCR Products

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This article was originally published on June 15.

By Ben Butkus

Agilent Technologies and Integrated DNA Technologies have agreed to co-market their qPCR reagents, assays, and instrumentation, Agilent said today.

Under the agreement, the companies will co-market Agilent's Mx3005P qPCR system and Brilliant qPCR reagents with IDT's PrimeTime qPCR assays.

This is the first co-marketing pact in the area of real-time, quantitative PCR for Agilent since the company bolstered its product portfolio in this area along with its 2007 acquisition of Stratagene, Scott O'Brien, product line manager in Agilent's genomics division, told PCR Insider today.

In addition, the deal with IDT fills a particular gap for Agilent in the area of qPCR probe detection technology, O'Brien said.

"We've had, at Stratagene, and now Agilent, a quantitative or real-time PCR portfolio since 2001, and it's been something we've built on over the years," O'Brien said. "We have instruments, we have reagents.

"But a piece that we haven't had is really the probe detection technology," O'Brien added. "And that's part of the incentive for working with IDT. We find it to be mutually beneficial to work together, leveraging Agilent's strength in the instrumentation and general reagent space with IDT's strength to deliver oligos and assays to offer customers a more complete solution."

Agilent also said that the partnership will provide customers with a tool to validate discoveries resulting from next-generation sequencing and copy number variation studies. The company sells in-solution and microarray-based kits for targeted sequencing and microarrays for CNV analysis.

"In particular, CNV and next-gen sequencing are areas of strength in the market for Agilent," O'Brien said. "And these are relatively new technologies and areas of interest, so part of this is … what is the market really paying attention to; and what are the customers really excited about?"

The Mx3005P qPCR system is one of several PCR products Agilent brought on board as part of its Stratagene buy. The platform is a five-color system designed for five-target multiplex detection of FRET-based fluorescence, and can be used for gene expression analysis, microarray data validation, SNP genotyping, pathogen detection, DNA methylation analysis, and chromatin immunoprecipitation studies, according to the company's website.

Meantime, Agilent's Brilliant II and III qPCR reagents are master mixes and core reagent kits that are compatible with any fluorescent probe chemistry, including TaqMan probes, molecular beacons, Scorpions, hybridization probes, and hairpin primers, according to Agilent's website.

Agilent launched the Brilliant II reagents in 2008 specifically to provide improved performance on the Stratagene Mx systems. The reagents offer improved performance with earlier threshold cycle detection across a wide dynamic range, according to the company.

And in February, Agilent launched the Brilliant III ultra-fast reagents, which feature a newly engineered Taq to deliver a faster extension rate, and a novel hot-start technology to minimize non-specific amplification. The Brilliant III reagents allow the completion of real-time experiments in less than 40 minutes without compromising the accuracy and reproducibility of nucleic acid quantification, Agilent said.

The co-marketing agreement is also the first disclosed by IDT for its PrimeTime qPCR assays, although they are also compatible with PCR instrument platforms from Life Technologies' Applied Biosystems, BioRad, and Roche, according to the company's website.

PrimeTime qPCR assays are based on 5' nuclease amplification and comprise a forward primer, reverse primer, and dual-labeled probe delivered in a single-tube format. The oligonucleotide mixture enables relative or absolute quantification of a target sequence within a sample.

Unlike intercalation dyes, such as the SYBR Green used in Agilent's Brilliant kits, the dual-labeled probe can improve specificity by increasing fluorescence only when the target sequence is extended, according to IDT.

Agilent said that the PrimeTime assays allow greater flexibility in assay design due to the variety of options available, such as choices of scales, dye/quencher combinations, and primer-to-probe ratios.

"Scale is in regards to how much the customer wants, and I think IDT offers some flexibility there," O'Brien said. "And depending on the application or scientific approach; or maybe the customer knows something about the gene they're trying to detect – they may want to customize that design a little bit. Or if they’re multiplexing they may want to do different dye-quencher combinations – those are things that are really part of IDT's product offering."

Specific 5' dye/3' quencher dye combinations offered by IDT include FAM/Iowa Black FQ; FAM/TAMRA; and Hex, Tet, or Cy5 coupled with Iowa Black FQ.

IDT has a license from Applied Biosystems to offer the 5' nuclease assay kits, and in October 2008 was the first company to take a license to the technology under ABI's probe manufacturing license program. Shortly thereafter, IDT launched the PrimeTime assays.

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