CARLSBAD, Calif., April 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE) today announced that it is working with several partners to develop applications for its Ion Personal Genome Machine (PGM™) system in HLA (human leukocyte antigen) analysis.
HLAs are found on the surfaces of all cells in the body, and individuals vary widely in the combination of HLA sub-types found in their tissues. Tissue typing by HLA analysis is an essential component of determining organ and bone marrow transplant compatibility between donors and patients. Accurate typing is needed to reduce the possibility of transplant rejection or the risk of graft versus host disease. HLAs are coded by a group of genes referred to as the MHC (major histocompatibility complex).
Life Technologies intends to enter into a Sponsored Research Agreement with the Histocompatibility, Immunogenetics, and Disease Profiling Laboratory at the Stanford Department of Pathology. The researchers include Dolly Tyan, Ph.D., Marcelo Fernandez-Vina, Ph.D., and Matthew Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., who in a joint statement indicated, "Next-generation sequencing technologies offer an exciting new approach to understanding the unmapped genetic variation of the MHC. We believe the speed, throughput, and automated workflow of a system of this kind may help our efforts to better define this important genetic region for disease associations and clinical transplantation."
Howard Martin, Ph.D. of Addenbrookes Hospital - Cambridge has already begun working with the Ion PGM system and has deployed novel informatics strategies to obtain effective reads of the MHC using existing chemistries. "The speed and flexibility of the Ion PGM system has enabled us to rapidly develop our HLA sequencing strategy. As read lengths improve, so too does quality and scalability," said Martin, who described his early work in a webinar in October 2011."Next generation sequencing offers significant potential to the HLA community. We are particularly interested in the Ion PGM system in light of its technological advantages, rapid throughput, and operational simplicity and we believe it offers an excellent path forward for our laboratory," said Paul Keown, M.D., DSc, Director of Immunology and Head of Nephrology, University of British Columbia. The transplant diagnostics field represents a $400M global marketplace within the medical sciences. "Life Technologies is committed to expanding in areas of medical sciences in which genomics can play a critical role in improving patient outcomes," said Ronnie Andrews, president of medical sciences at Life Technologies. "Life believes that the Ion Torrent disruptive technology, including increasing read length and throughput, make it a very promising tool for transplant research." Life Technologies currently markets the 3500 Capillary Electrophoresis platform and SeCore® kits as a Research Use Only (RUO) product in the United States; these products are also CE-IVD approved in Europe. The Ion PGM system is currently for research purposes only and is not intended for diagnostic uses.