AACR 2015: New NGS Products

The annual American Association of Cancer Research meeting (AACR) was held April 18–22 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Attendance for the conference was 19,300, up about 4% from last year (see IBO 4/30/14).

The number of companies exhibiting totaled 438. A notable trend in the exhibit hall was the number of CRISPR/Cas9 products and services available from vendors. Other trends observed included the increased application of microfluidics for purification and analysis; ever smaller sample sizes, down to the analysis of single cells; and increasing automation.

At its booth, Illumina previewed the NeoPrep Library Prep System for automated NGS library preparation. The system is the newest addition to the company’s NGS workflow, utilizing the microfluidic technology Illumina acquired when it purchased Advanced Liquid Logic (see IBO 7/31/13). End-users load reagents and their samples onto the “library card,” a disposable microfabricated plate, and press a button. In around six hours, 16 NGS libraries are ready for sequencing. The system will be priced at $49,000, with a special introductory price of $39,000.

Another example of the use of microfluidic technology is Silicon Biosystems’s DEPArray System, a fully automated solution for cell isolation. Using dielectrophoresis and fluorescent labeling, individual cells, including live cells in media, are captured in the wells of a microfluidic plate for imaging and analysis, and then grouped and recovered. Analyses include image-based selection and single-cell analysis.

Affymetrix introduced the GeneChip WT Pico Kit, which allows for array-based whole-transcriptome analysis from as few as 10 cells. Designed for target preparation for the company’s GeneChip Whole-Transcriptome Arrays, the Kit can be used with various sample types, including FFPE tissues. Removal of globin or ribosomal RNA is not required.

Seahorse Biosciences’s new XFp Cell Energy Phenotype Test Kit uses sophisticated electronics to enable the measurement of glycolysis and mitochondrial respiration. The kit is designed for use with the company’s XFp Extracellular Flux Analyzer, a smaller, more user-friendly instrument than its older big brother, the XFe Analyzer. The plates are designed so that each sample can be exposed to up to four different compounds to examine dose response, agonist or antagonist response, or pathway perturbation of each sample.

Thermo Fisher Scientific showed several new products. The Liquid Biopsy Platform enables the analysis of both circulating tumor cells (CTCs) as well as cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from a single sample. They system provides an optimized workflow from sample collection and stabilization, to cell separation and subsequent analysis by NGS from as few as three cells without the bias introduced by whole genome amplification. From the same sample, cfDNA and germ line white blood cell DNA can also be analyzed by NGS. The Platform is manufactured by Cynvenio Biosystems.

Thermo’s Ion Torrent Oncomine Focus Assay is yet another NGS cancer panel—but one with a twist. It enables the analysis of both DNA and RNA from solid tumors, so that a whole range of defined genetic mutations can be interrogated in 52 cancer genes: 35 hotspot genes, 19 CNV genes and 23 gene fusions. The biomarkers are based on information in the Oncomine Knowledgebase and confirmed by industry-leading pharmaceutical partners. Like many other new NGS products, the drive is toward comprehensive analysis with ever-smaller sample inputs. The assay is designed for use with the Ion PGM System.

The Thermo Scientific KingFisher Duo Prime Purification System is an automated solution designed to purify nucleic acids and proteins with greater yield and minimal hands-on time. Unlike other automated solutions for purification, there is no liquid handling transfer from one step to another. The target to be purified gets attached to magnetic beads, and then the beads get transferred from one step to another. Features include a UV lamp for decontamination, optional bar code reader and additional language options.

Two new benchtop real-time PCR instruments, the Applied Biosystems QuantStudio 3 and QuantStudio 5, were also featured. They are unique to the portfolio because they have been designed with integrated and intuitive web browser–based software for data access and analysis anytime and anywhere via the Thermo Fisher Cloud. No more is PC purchase required when buying a real-time PCR instrument. The interface for system operation has been designed to resemble an iPad. These two systems are geared to ultimately replace the StepOne Real-Time PCR Systems.

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