Clinical researchers keen on NanoChip Molecular Biology tool for use in genetic-based tests

San Diego 10 January 2001Nanogen Inc., the producer of a commercially available electronic micro-array, has installed ten NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstations. Nanogen Inc. recently began marketing its proprietary NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation to scientists and genomics laboratories in order to set new standards for SNP scoring. The ten placements include one sale, eight development site agreements, and one expanded research collaboration. Each customer will focus on expanding the clinical research applications of the NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation through the development of versatile, highly accurate, rapid and cost-efficient genetic-based tests.


The University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada purchased one NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation in December 2000. Researchers at the institution plan to use it in research programmes in toxicogenomics and public health microbiology. The research programme in toxicogenomics is intended to assess potential health impacts posed by different chemicals in the environment by identifying relevant DNA-sequence poly-morphisms with suspected roles in determining individual sensitivity to chemicals. In turn, the aim of the research programme in public health microbiology consists in developing molecular methods for the identification and characterisation of different pathogens with an initial focus on enteric micro-organisms.

Under the Nanogen Development Site Programme, the NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstations were placed in December 2000 at the University of Pennsylvania, the Children's National Medical Center in Washington DC, the University of Minnesota, Stanford University, the University of California in San Diego, the University of Chicago, Statens Serum Institut in Denmark, and the United States National Cancer Institute (NCI) at Frederick. Nanogen is designing a series of electronics-based products to assist researchers and clinical health care providers in accelerating their practical understanding and use of genomic information. The Nanogen products provide quick and accurate analysis of DNA, RNA and proteins, "bridging" both the research and clinical diagnostic settings. The NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation however is intended for research use only and not for use in diagnostic procedures.

The Molecular Pathology Laboratory at the Pennsylvania University Hospital in Philadelphia is a molecular diagnostics laboratory and plans to research and develop spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) carrier testing on the NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation. SMA, a devastating disease affecting one in 6000 live births, is the second most common lethal recessive disease after cystic fibrosis. The Research Center for Genetic Medicine at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington DC, a paediatric medical centre and an expert institution in the application of micro-array technology to human disease research and diagnosis, will conduct research and development with the intent to transfer highly specialised genetic tests, such as those for genes causing patients to experience sudden attacks of muscle paralysis and for the gene causing severe autism in girls, known as Rett Syndrome.

The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Minnesota, specialised in molecular genetic testing, will use the NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation to accelerate the development of a multi-plexed oncogene analysis for evaluation of cytology specimens in cancer diagnostics. Stanford University's School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California, an expert in genetic research and molecular biology and the applications of such research to medical care and biotechnology, plans to use the NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation in order to study differential gene expression in cancers originating in a variety of tissues.

The School of Medicine at San Diego's University of California, a biomedical research institution in La Jolla, will apply the NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation to evaluate bipolar disorders, small infectious organisms, chronic leukemia lymphomas and ATP binding cassette transporter proteins which transport various molecules across membranes. Chicago University, specialised in genetics research, will use the NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation in collaboration with Dr. Edwin Cook, Director of the Laboratory of Developmental Neuroscience, to study the molecular genetics of autism, attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder, adolescent depression, childhood onset obsessive-compulsive disorder, stuttering, and paediatric and early onset bipolar mood disorder.

Statens Serum Institut, the National Central Laboratory of the Danish Health System and a large provider of biochemical and genetic screening in Denmark, will use the NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation to develop new methods for prenatal care including evaluating the significance of mannan binding lectin as a marker of risk for infection and miscarriage. The Laboratory of Molecular Technology in the National Cancer Institute at Frederick, which provides expertise for cancer research in the United States for thousands of NCI-funded researchers across the United States and the world, plans to use the NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation in three research applications: identification of the allelic imbalance in esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma, development of a complimentary technology for the validation of micro-array transcription profiling results, and development of a technology for identification of specific protein-nucleic acid interactions.

Nanogen has established the Development Site Programme with the aim to actively collaborate with a varied range of selected customers in strategically important market segments, including clinical research; research divisions of reference diagnostic laboratories and genomics; agrochemical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical companies, in the setting-up of assays on the Nanogen platform. Under these agreements, collaborating companies and institutions offer expertise and intellectual property in exchange for preferential access to Nanogen's technology. After the applications are validated, the collaborating institutions may purchase the NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstation and NanoChip cartridges for use in their operations.

Leslie Versweyveld

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