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NextGen Using Thermo Fisher Technologies for Protein Biomarker Assay Development

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Thermo Fisher Scientific and NextGen Sciences this week announced a collaboration for the use of Thermo Fisher's technology as part of NextGen's biomarker services business.

Under the deal, Thermo Fisher's Biomarker Research Initiatives in Mass Spectrometry in Cambridge, Mass., will work with NextGen to apply Thermo Fisher's newest technologies.

NextGen, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., already uses several Thermo Fisher products for its biomarker discovery services, called biomarkerexpress, including the LTQ Orbitrap XL mass specs, SIEVE software for label-free differential analysis; and Proteome Discoverer software. It also uses the TSQ Quantum Ultra triple stage mass spec and Pinpoint software for the development and testing of panels for potential new biomarkers.

In a statement, the two firms said that NextGen has been working closely with the BRIMS center during the past year to develop an assay to verify osteoarthritis biomarker candidates in synovial fluid. The biomarkers were discovered previously by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Case Western Reserve University.

The osteoarthritis panel is being tested currently at NextGen on a 1,000 patient sample cohort provided by Harvard.

NextGen is also using the TSQ Vantage mass spec to verify a 29-protein panel in CSF for Alzheimer's disease; a 20-protein panel in urine for prostate cancer; a 10-protein panel in plasma for colon cancer; a 10-protein panel in urine for pancreatic cancer; and a Her2 biomarker panel in tissue.

While immunoassays have been routinely used to monitor levels of putative biomarkers in samples and provide high-quality data, the development of multiplexed, quantitative protein assays has been a bottleneck in protein biomarker research, Thermo Fisher and NextGen said.

NextGen, however, has used selected reaction monitoring to develop protein biomarker assays as a technique to break through the bottleneck. The biomarker assay development pipeline at NextGen is "iterative and can handle large numbers of proteins, permitting investigators to empirically validate and select all of their biomarkers," the companies said.

NextGen began offering its biomarker services in late 2007 and became a pure biomarker firm late last year after divesting its automation and software business [see PM 12/11/08] followed by the sale of its electrophoresis business [see PM 03/05/09].

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