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Genetix, MRC to Build and Sell Automated Yeast Two-Hybrid System

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With the aid of a £2.5 million ($3.94 million) grant from the British government, Genetix has teamed up with the Medical Research Council to develop a commercially-available laboratory robotics system for conducting yeast two-hybrid experiments to study protein-protein interactions, Genetix said last week.

Although many groups use yeast two-hybrid to study protein-protein interactions, no automated equipment for performing the experiments is currently available on the market, Genetix said.

Genetix, based in New Milton, UK, will build the automated platform for the yeast two-hybrid experiments, while MRC scientists will develop the assays, said Julian Burke, Genetix’ scientific director. Ultimately, the platform will have the capacity to measure up to 250,000 interactions per day, Burke added.

Genetix describes the new system as automated because the prey colonies, which are held in microwell plates, are spotted on to the bait by robots. The robots then transfer the colonies to a sector plate, and if a colony grows, the system remembers the location of the prey, thereby identifying the putative protein-protein interaction, Burke said. The system will also automatically photograph the sector plates at various time intervals to track the growth of particular colonies.

Burke hopes to have an initial system for studying yeast protein-protein interactions on the market next year, at a price of about $200,000. A second robotic system, designed for studying protein-protein interactions in mammalian cells using high frequency transfection, is likely to follow in 2004, he said.

Funding for the joint project will come from the LINK Programme in Applied Genomics, which was established two years ago with £15 million ($23.6 million) in funding from the Department of Trade and Industry, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and the MRC. Genetix is devoting matching funds of £2.5 million to help pay for developing the equipment.

— JSM

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