Due to its active mining and manufacturing of asbestos in the mid-1900s, Australia has the highest incidence of mesothelioma in the world. Rates of the disease have tripled in the past 20 years and are expected to peak about 2010. Diagnosis of this type of cancer is difficult, and patients are often not identified until the condition is quite advanced.
Agilent's new microarray techniques in comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) will allow researchers to rapidly and reliably identify genetic changes in tumorous cells. It is believed that specific genetic changes may accompany the onset and progression of the disease.
Dr. Andrew Holloway of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre said his team will work in conjunction with colleagues at The University of Western Australia, using Agilent's CGH microarray to provide a more thorough understanding of the genetic makeup of mesothelioma cells, which may ultimately lead to increased knowledge of the origins and development of this and other cancers.
"Agilent's CGH technology will allow us to study the entire genome in a manner that hasn't been possible in previous genomics research," said Holloway. "Upon completion, this project will produce the largest data set of its kind on mesothelioma in the world. We are very optimistic that it will give us a much clearer understanding and interpretation of this devastating disease."
"Agilent's new CGH microarray platform provides very high sensitivity, enabling researchers to detect small changes in chromosomes, including single copy deletions, which have previously been the most difficult to find," said Agilent Integrated Biology Solutions product manager David Tunks.
"We hope the outcome of this work will have a major effect on mesothelioma research," said Holloway. "The Australian economy will need $5 billion to fund the compensation, treatment and management of mesothelioma in the community, so this research is critical in working toward minimizing these costs, with the eventual hope of developing tools for earlier diagnosis and treatment."