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Breakthrough Microarray-based Technology for the Study of Cancer

A new development in the analysis of cancer has been announced by Agilent Technologies. The company has reported an innovative method that enables the rapid advance of microarray-based comparative genomic studies in cancer. According to the report published in the December 24, 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 specialised microarray platform that uses total genomic DNA to overcome several scientific hurdles that previously impeded comparative genomic studies in cancer.

Chromosomal changes in cancer can be studied using Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), which undergoes dramatic chromosomal changes, including loss, duplication and the translocation of DNA from one chromosome to another, as cancer develops. 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." In the past, comparative genomic hybridization was performed 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, sp ecificity 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 high sensitivity, enabling CGH researchers to reliably identify the single copy deletions in chromosomes that have been the most difficult to detect. Additionally, the technology allows for the use of total genomic DNA to detect chromosomal changes across the entire genome. The Platform enables amplification or non-amplification of total genomic DNA in studies of the whole genome, providing better ease of use and improved experimental design.


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