Product News: The NCI to Identify Germ-Line Markers of Cancer Susceptibility Using the BioMark System, Fluidigm Announces

04 Sep 2007

SAIC-Frederick, Inc. has acquired the BioMark™ system for use in its Core Genotyping Facility (CGF) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. SAIC-Frederick is the prime contractor for the National Cancer Institute at Frederick (NCI-Frederick) and a wholly owned subsidiary of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). SAIC-Frederick operates the CGF for NCI-Frederick as part of its Advanced Technology Program.

The CGF was established to determine the heritable components for various forms of cancer. This genetic information may be used to screen individuals for cancer susceptibility and to guide the design of targeted therapies.

“The NCI is one of the premier cancer research centers in the world, so we are delighted that its prime contractor, SAIC-Frederick, is using the BioMark system in the race to identify susceptibility markers,” said Fluidigm CEO Gajus Worthington.

The CGF evaluated different platforms before selecting dynamic arrays as the best solution for increased genotyping efficiency. The BioMark system is based on a new consumable known as dynamic arrays, which automatically assemble PCR assays “on-chip”, thus eliminating much of the labor.

“This system allows us to take advantage of TaqMan® assays we’ve already developed and validated,” said Robert Welch, Operational Director, CGF, SAIC-Frederick. The CGF has a repository of more than 5,000 5’ nuclease assays that assess single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to test candidate genes against samples from well diagnosed cancer patients. With dynamic arrays, the CGF can draw upon their store of SNP assays and run them against its plentiful patient samples. A typical project addressed by this technology entails 30-300 assays for candidate genes and 1,000 or more samples.

Until now, large association studies utilizing the gold-standard 5’ nuclease assays have typically required thousands of microwell plates, mechanical robotics to perform liquid transfers, and large volumes of costly reagents. This approach, while automated, is prohibitively complex and expensive. BioMark dynamic arrays radically simplify the process because a matrix of channels, valves, and chambers within each array automatically assembles 2,304 parallel, nano-volume reactions. With the BioMark™ system and standard, industry-accepted reagents, researchers can increase their throughput 6-fold, decrease pipetting 50-fold, yet cut running costs substantially relative to current 384-well genotyping systems.