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AQUA® Technology Uses Extend Beyond Protein: Effective measurement of messenger RNA now demonstrated

BRANFORD, Conn., May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- HistoRx, the leader in quantitative immunohistochemistry, announces the application of their proprietary AQUA technology to assessment of messenger RNA in tissue.  AQUA technology enables robust quantification and standardization of protein in tissue specimens; this new work extends the platform's capabilities beyond protein expression analysis to quantification of nucleic acids. 

AQUA technology was invented to address the challenges of measuring protein in tissue with the same precision and reproducibility with which laboratories measure glucose in blood.  Human tissue, particularly tumor tissue, is a highly complex environment in which a biomarker's location, quantity and heterogeneity can all be important factors in understanding the biology of the disease.  The ability to use the strengths of AQUA technology to evaluate both protein and RNA allows researchers, for the first time, to explore their relationship within tumor tissue.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a nucleic acid that functions as blueprint to translate DNA's genetic code into proteins, the functional units of the cell.  As a biomarker, it enables scientists to evaluate the step between the cell's genetic information and its protein expression.  Assessment of mRNA is usually performed via RT-PCR, a highly sensitive technique that is not easily standardized.  Yale University Professor of Pathology David Rimm, MD, PhD, and his collaborators have taken a new approach, combining AQUAnalysis® from HistoRx with RNAscope® from Advanced Cell Diagnostics, to gain crucial benefits. Dr. Rimm and his collaborators have completed an important study of mRNA by AQUA technology, published in this month's PLoS ONE as "Quantitative In Situ Measurement of Estrogen Receptor mRNA Predicts Response to Tamoxifen."  The study of two independent breast cancer cohorts (n = 128 and n = 524) demonstrated that quantification of mRNA using AQUA technology and RNAscope together may allow sensitive, specific and reproducible measurement of mRNA in FFBE breast cancer tissues.

"The coupling of ACD's RNAscope with AQUA technology starts to address a critical unmet need in RNA quantification in tissue," said Yuling Luo, Ph.D., Founder, President and CEO of ACD.  "Further, enabling the combination of RNA and protein quantification on the same tissue slide could provide a dynamic new view of physiology and cell signaling in tumor tissue."

Although mRNAs have been identified as important factors in cancer pathogenesis, their evaluation techniques typically require use of ground tissue, rather than intact specimens.  As a result, the location of the analyte within the tissue is lost, and the generation of standardized results is jeopardized.  Dr. Rimm, founding scientist of HistoRx and Director of Pathology Tissue Services at the Yale School of Medicine, explains: "This dual approach has the advantages of retaining critical spatial information while increasing throughput when used in combination with tissue microarrays.  With internal standardization and spatial information, the accuracy of this test should exceed RT-PCR."

AQUA technology is an automated, quantitative fluorescent IHC testing method that enables measurement of protein biomarkers in tissue as an aid to a pathologist's diagnosis.  Such precise determination of first, the location within the tumor cell and second, the amount in each location is not possible with conventional testing methods, such as standard immunohistochemistry (IHC).  AQUA analysis is used in cancer research by more than twenty leading academic centers worldwide, is part of the clinical development plans for more than ten drug candidates from major pharma companies, and has been cited in more than 120 peer-reviewed publications.  AQUA technology is currently available on the ScanScope® FL from Aperio and the Vectra™ 2 system from Caliper Life Sciences, a PerkinElmer company.

About HistoRx, Inc.

HistoRx, Inc. is the leader in quantitative immunohistochemistry and a leading developer of tissue-based diagnostic solutions to advance individualized patient care.  The company's products and services are based on proprietary analysis of tissue biomarkers using AQUA® technology.  HistoRx is commercializing a pipeline of proprietary diagnostic products targeting improved treatment decision-making and patient outcomes in cancer care.  For more information, please visit

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