Agilent Technologies announces breakthrough for cancer researchers studying chromosomal changes


Company publishes innovative method for microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization using total genomic DNA

PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 5, 2005 -- Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced a breakthrough development that enables the rapid advance of microarray-based comparative genomic studies in cancer. As published in the Dec. 21, 2004, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) in collaboration with the National Human Genome Research Institute, Agilent has developed a specialized microarray platform that uses total genomic DNA to overcome several scientific hurdles that previously impeded comparative genomic studies in cancer.

Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) is used to study chromosomal changes in cancer. As cancer cells develop, they undergo dramatic chromosomal changes, including loss, duplication and the translocation of DNA from one chromosome to another. Understanding these changes is key to understanding cancer progression as well as developing possible therapies and prognostic and diagnostic tools.

"Genomic alterations leading to changes in the number of gene copies present in cells are important events in the genesis and progression of cancer," said Michael Bittner of the Translational Genomics Research Institute. "Agilent has now taken array-CGH experiments into a new realm of resolution, sensitivity, and reproducibility that allows reliable detection of alterations at the scale of individual genes and even introns and exons. This advancement, along with the possibility it provides to correlate genomic copy alterations with mRNA abundance and protein abundance, is going to incite a huge body of experimentation and publication among the cancer research community."

Originally, comparative genomic hybridization was done through the optical imaging of whole chromosomes, a technique with limited sensitivity, resolution, quantification and throughput. Efforts in recent years to use microarrays to overcome these limitations have been hampered by inadequate sensitivity, specificity and flexibility of the microarray platforms.

As detailed in the PNAS paper, Agilent's breakthrough is founded on the modification of its gene-expression profiling microarray technology to improve its utility for DNA analysis applications. This new platform provides very high sensitivity, enabling CGH researchers to reliably identify the single copy deletions in chromosomes that have been the most difficult to detect.

Agilent's array-CGH platform can use total genomic DNA to detect chromosomal changes across the entire genome. Several microarray providers have required scientists to significantly reduce the complexity of their genomic samples, usually by amplifying only specific DNA regions, to enable study. Researchers using Agilent's platform can use either amplified or non-amplified total genomic DNA in studies of the whole genome, providing better ease of use and improved experimental design.

Through the flexibility of Agilent's in situ, ink-jet-based microarray manufacturing, Agilent can deliver custom microarrays designed to explore either the entire genome or specific regions of interest, according to project need. Agilent plans to introduce a commercial microarray solution for whole genome array-CGH in late January, including method protocols, reagents and software. For more information, please contact your Agilent sales representative or e-mail [email protected].

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