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Capturing it all
January 2010
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author


HEIDELBERG, Germany—From among a half-dozen competitors in the rapidly expanding target-enrichment market, the Cancer Genomic Microarray Facility at the Kimmel Cancer Center of the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has selected febit's Geniom RT Analyzer to advance its biomedical research on targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS), genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and microRNA (miRNA) analysis.

The Kimmel Cancer Center focuses on the discovery of cancer risk factors, prevention strategies and cancer diagnostics as well as targeted cancer treatment to improve survival and quality of life for patients.

The Kimmel Center will use the advanced microfluidics of the patented Geniom Biochip, which according to febit, offers the highest degree of automation, flexibility and efficiency available. 

"Geniom is a flexible and high-throughput technology for miRNA analysis and targeted re-sequencing, and with our recent acquisition of an NGS system, I believe that the febit HybSelect application will be a powerful complement to our repertoire," says Prof. Paolo M. Fortina, director of the Laboratory of Cancer Genomics at the Kimmel Cancer Center. "My laboratory focuses on the development and validation of technologies for diagnostics with emphasis on SNP detection, mRNA and miRNA profiling in a variety of cancers and other medical conditions. The automation and flexibility of febit's technology allows us to investigate a variety of different diseases in short periods of time."

Fortina notes that his lab talked to several system providers and selected febit for both its technology and willingness to be flexible in coming to an agreement to develop an assay. The new system has been unpacked, installed and tested and training began the first week of January.

"We are obviously in the early stage but are working actively in oncology—breast cancer, for example," he says. "We envision that in the next year we'll have a project on the whole transcriptome and another targeting other specific cancers such as colon cancer. We think febit has developed highly interesting technology that has great potential."

Peer Staehler, CSO of febit biomed gmbh, notes that the instrument sold to Kimmel does two assays—HybSelect and miRNA profiling, both of which use microfluidic chips. And both share a common goal, he states, which is exploration of the genome at the cutting edge in an automated system.

"HybSelect enables large-scale studies on biological variations that lead to cancer," Staehler says.

In the past, studying variations in DNA across a large number of individuals was difficult. HybSelect resequences part of the genome—50 to 60 gigabases in one run—to do 100 or 1,000 samples, not just one, to facilitate the study of biological variation between healthy indviduals and cancer patients or between different patients.

HybSelect is also used for miRNA profiling to determine the presence and activity of the approximate 1,000 miRNAs that are involved in regulating cancer cells. The functional understanding of these genes will lead to biomarkers that may have clinical, research and diagnostic application.

"miRNA biomarkets are very information rich," Staehler notes. "The difference is almost like going from analog to digital. We are pleased that the Kimmel Cancer Center will use the Geniom RT Analyzer to evaluate mutations and miRNAs in a variety of diseases. The Geniom technology enables large cohort studies with statistical relevance provided by Geniom's high degree of automation." 
Code: E011018



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