12:00 AM
Apr 05, 2012
 |  BC Innovations  |  Tools & Techniques

Xpress sequencing for express screening

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego and the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease have developed a system for genomic-based drug screening that combines mRNA profiling and an automated, high throughput sequencing platform.1 Startup 255Xpress Inc. has licensed the technology and is adapting it for a variety of drug screening assays.

A team led by Xiang-Dong Fu, professor of cellular and molecular medicine at UCSD and a cofounder of 255Xpress, described an mRNA profiling technique in 2002 that allowed for parallel analysis of mRNA transcripts on microarrays without the need for RNA purification or cDNA synthesis.2 The approach, which involved RNA annealing, selection and ligation, was useful for quantifying gene expression and mRNA isoforms. It also led to the development of genotyping assays marketed by Illumina Inc.

According to Fu, although at the time it was clear that mRNA profiling strategies also could be applied in principle to drug screening, his group's microarray-based system would have had limited throughput and potentially caused artifacts.

Now, Fu and collaborators at Gladstone have addressed these issues by scrapping the microarray component altogether and have instead combined a platform that fully automates mRNA profiling with a high throughput sequencing platform that uses bar-coded primers and deep sequencing to quantify gene expression.

The resulting system, which was implemented by combining Beckman Coulter Inc.'s Biomek FX laboratory automation workstation with Illumina's HiSeq2000 molecular sequencing system, can help screen...

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