Agilent said this week that it has awarded Steven Carr, director of the Proteomics Platform at the Broad Institute, funding and equipment worth roughly $1.2 million under its Agilent Thought Leader program — an initiative intended to support influential researchers and demonstrate the use of the company's technology.
The award package, which includes an automated liquid handling system, chip-based nano-HPLC system, and Agilent 6490 triple quadrupole mass spectrometer, will support Carr's research into SISCAPA-SRM assays, which have emerged as a key technology in Agilent's plans to move its mass spec systems into the clinic.
"We have an internal initiative to move our products toward the clinic," Agilent applications solution manager Keith Waddell told ProteoMonitor. "We're not quite there in terms of LC-MS, but peptide quantitation is one of those areas, and anything to do with biomarker analysis we're extremely interested in."
Agilent has established a relationship with Carr in recent years through his work within the National Cancer Institute's Clinical Proteomic Technologies for Cancer initiative, Waddell said.
"He's done a lot of work through the CPTC program where they were trying to develop verification assays for [peptide] quantitation," he said. "We monitor [the CPTC effort] pretty closely, and they use as part of that program some of our equipment, and it's something that's very important to us."
Carr will also be participating in the second stage of the CPTC initiative, which launched in August (PM 8/26/2011). He and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center researcher Amanda Paulovich will be working together, leading proteo-genomic discovery, prioritization, and verification of cancer biomarkers as part of the project.
In a statement Carr said the Agilent award "would allow [his lab] to explore new automation methods for liquid handling and sample preparation together with high-sensitivity, targeted, quantitative mass spectrometry."
SISCAPA, or stable isotope standards and capture by anti-peptide antibodies, was developed by Leigh Anderson, who launched a company – SISCAPA Assay Technologies – based on the technology in June (PM 6/17/2011). Anderson and Agilent have been collaborating for several years on an automated workflow for the method with the aim of making it high-throughput and reproducible enough for use in clinical validation of protein biomarkers as well as a platform for proteomics-based diagnostics.
At the Association for Mass Spectrometry's Applications to the Clinical Lab meeting in February, Anderson presented an automated SISCAPA workflow using an Agilent Bravo liquid handling system for sample prep attached to an Agilent 1200 series LC system and an Agilent 6490 triple quadrupole instrument (PM 2/11/2011).
SISCAPA provides Agilent "a unique opportunity to meld together our LC-MS technology with our liquid handling technology to be able to produce a one-stop shop of products that can do the complete workflow," Waddell said.
He added that the company is seeing SISCAPA "filter out" into labs across the world, particularly in Korea, China, and Europe. "Being a global company, we're very interested in any market which takes off on a global basis, and that's something we're seeing here," he said.
The award "is designed so [Carr] has a lot of latitude to explore different avenues, but he has such a huge depth of knowledge in this area and such a huge drive to make this area work, that to us he was like a perfect partner to be working with."
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