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SANTA CLARA, Calif. & GUANGZHOU, China—Agilent Technologies Inc. is teaming up with Burning Rock for the development of cancer diagnostics in China. No financial details were disclosed, but the companies’ work will be based on the Agilent SureSelect target enrichment system.
Burning Rock has been an Agilent customer since 2014, says Dr. Charmian Cher, director of global launch excellence for Agilent’s Diagnostics and Genomics Group. Burning Rock is “well known for their development of innovative molecular cancer diagnostics,” adds Cher, and both companies “share a common vision that involves putting patients first and demanding the most accurate answers through the use of leading-edge technology. This shared vision is reflected in our complementary expertise and technical skill sets.”
“We are excited to partner with Burning Rock to accelerate accurate diagnosis of cancer for patients in China,” Jacob Thaysen, president of Agilent’s Diagnostics and Genomics Group, said of the deal. “We believe that target enrichment and next-generation sequencing have a vital role to play in personalizing medicine and ultimately delivering treatments tailored to the individual. This is especially so for complex diseases such as cancer.”
Agilent’s SureSelect Target Enrichment Solutions enable researchers to focus on the regions that they’re interested in, such as the exome or a targeted panel, rather than looking at the whole genome, the company explains. Agilent offers SureSelect solutions for targeted DNA or RNA capture and allow users to “increase sample throughput via multiplexing while achieving the sequencing depth required to accurately call SNPs, Indels and other mutations.” The system uses “ultra-long—120-mer—biotinylated cRNA baits to capture regions of interest, enriching them out of a NGS genomic fragment library.”
“As the leader in molecular cancer diagnosis in China, Burning Rock is very pleased to partner with Agilent, a global leader in diagnostics and genomics,” Yusheng Han, the founder and CEO of Burning Rock, commented in a press release. “Collaboration between our two companies will provide additional high-quality molecular diagnostic solutions based on next-generation sequencing, including non-invasive testing, relapse monitoring, early-stage diagnosis and cancer susceptibility.”
Burning Rock intends to register its molecular diagnostic kit with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), and is optimistic that it could become the first CFDA-approved capture sequencing-based cancer diagnostic assay in the Chinese market. Cher calls China “one of Agilent’s most important markets, presenting new and challenging opportunities.”
“With Burning Rock’s reach, expertise and footprint, we can make a greater impact on human health in China,” Cher tells DDNews. “Our partnership with Burning Rock is an important step forward for Agilent, as together we will help to bring personalized, precision medicine to China.”
Zacks Equity Research notes that “China is emerging as a major driver of Agilent’s business, mainly because of its position as a manufacturing destination. Agilent makes test equipment that is required by manufacturers. The company’s strong market position and customer relationships in China are long-term drivers of its business. Chinese stimulus plans have fueled growth in the past and the laws passed by the government regarding food safety and environmental testing offer additional growth opportunity for Agilent.”
Agilent is working to advance its offerings in other areas as well. A few days before the deal with Burning Rock was announced, Agilent shared news of the EU launch of its new CE-IVD labeled IQFISH lung cancer panel for automated analysis on Dako Omnis. The panel enables routine pathology laboratories to integrate fast, high-quality fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) into their immunohistochemistry (IHC) workflow. Labs can then simultaneously stain IHC and FISH slides, and multiple FISH slides can be processed in just four hours, compared to the usual run time of two days or more with traditional FISH. This new panel was designed with Agilent’s SureFISH technology utilizing formamide-free IQFISH fast hybridization buffer, and consists of ALK, ROS1, RET and MET IQFISH probes.
A month later, the company announced that it had launched a comprehensive offering of pooled CRISPR libraries for functional genomics. SureGuide uses Agilent’s oligonucleotide synthesis platform to create CRISPR guide libraries, which play a key role in CRISPR/Cas genome editing. The SureGuide CRISPR libraries come in three formats: ready-to-package plasmid libraries consisting of GeCKO libraries; ready-to-clone libraries that enable user-defined custom CRISPR targets in mammalian cells; and ready-to-amplify custom libraries that give researchers the option of designing every aspect of their CRISPR library, including enabling the use of alternative delivery systems, cloning approaches and developing CRISPR libraries that target any set of genomic regions in an organism.