The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center at Houston and NanoString Technologies, Inc., a Seattle, Washington based publicly-held provider of life science tools for translational research and molecular diagnostic products, have announced a multi-year collaboration with the objective of accelerating the development and adoption of a new assay method based on NanoString’s nCounter Analysis System — an automated platform that uses a novel digital barcoding chemistry to deliver high-precision multiplexed assays across a number of important research applications.
nCounter offers a simple, cost-effective way to simultaneously profile hundreds of mRNAs, microRNAs, or DNA targets with pinpoint sensitivity and precision. nCounter’s digital detection of target molecules and high levels of multiplexing mean no compromise between data quality and data quantity. Data output files include the target identifier and count number along with a comprehensive set of internal controls that enables each assay to be highly quantitative and reproducible, thereby yielding sensitivity and reproducibility for studying of hundreds of targets. NanoString’s nCounter technology uses color-coded molecular barcodes that can hybridize directly to many different types of target molecules, and is thus capable of detecting and counting hundreds of unique transcripts in a single reaction.
By providing simple, multiplexed digital profiling of single molecules, the NanoString platform represents a natural, digital downstream companion to next-generation sequencing and enables researchers to embark on studies that were previously inconceivable. nCounter assays are also enzyme-free and capable of generating high-quality results from challenging sample types, including FFPE tissue, and unlike certain other methods, the nCounter protocol requires no amplification steps with potential to introduce bias in results. The nCounter system is thus uniquely positioned to support translational research because it provides more reproducible results than methods requiring amplification, and generates high-quality data from the difficult sample types common in clinical research, including Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded (FFPE) tissues.
NanoString was founded in 2003 with an exclusive license to develop and market a novel digital molecular barcoding technology invented at the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in Seattle under direction of Dr. Leroy Hood. Since the nCounter Analysis System’s initial 2008 launch, NanoString has continued in its efforts to identify new ways to optimize performance through system enhancements. In 2010, the company launched new applications enabling the system to support microRNA analysis and copy number variation detection, and in 2013 launched Prosigna, its first in vitro diagnostic product for prognosis of early stage breast cancer, in Europe and Israel.
NanoString’s most recent nCounter update is focused on optimizing the binding of the purified probe-target tripartite complex to the slide surface, resulting in higher and more reproducible digital counts per sample. Nanostring explains that this optimization involves the priming of the Cartridge binding surface prior to sample introduction combined with extending the time provided for binding of the probe-target complex to the slide surface.
The collaboration with MD Anderson Cancer Center will involve development of “multi-omic” assays that will increase efficiency by being able to simultaneously profile both gene and protein expression, a primary focus being identification of important biomarkers in the deepening and broadening field of immuno-oncology, as well as extending programs for targeting therapeutics.
“These types of assays are designed to provide a powerful tool for comprehensively probing tumor biology, and have the potential to capture the biology needed to optimize the use of new cancer therapeutics, especially in the dynamic field of immuno-oncology, where matching patients with the right combination of therapies is critical, initially in clinical trials and then in patient treatment,” says Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D. , chair of Systems Biology at MD Anderson.
Dr. Mills is co-director of the Center’s Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy and will lead the joint collaboration effort. The Institute was created to support preclinical research and clinical trials in which tumor biopsies are assayed for presence of abnormal genes and gene products in order to more accurately custom-select therapy with agents that will most efficiently target the product of particular abnormal genes. The goal is to develop and define new patient care methodologies that are projected to make personalized cancer therapy the treatment standard over the next five years, revolutionizing the way cancer patients are managed.
NanoString is preparing to introduce new research panels for simultaneous measurement of gene and protein expression, with the first panel’s beta launch planned for the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting to be held April 18-22 in Philadelphia, where Nanostring Senior Vice President of Research & Technologies Joe Beechem, Ph.D., is slated to present “Simultaneous Multi-omic Measurement of Gene Fusions, mRNA and Proteins at 800-plex Using Single Molecule Optical Barcodes” at 10 a.m. Eastern on April 20. With the addition of this proteomic capability, the nCounter Analysis System will be enhanced with capabilities for concurrent genomic and proteomic analysis.
Key objectives of the MD Anderson-NanoString collaboration include development of new multi-omic assays and signatures that profile key oncology disease pathways and immune response from tumor tissue; incorporation of these multi-omic assays into select clinical studies being run at MD Anderson to predict response and monitor response to cancer immuno-therapies, and targeted therapies, both as single agents and combinations; and identification of clinically actionable proteomic markers across multiple tumor types.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is one of only 41 institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as comprehensive cancer centers . For the past 25 years, MD Anderson has ranked as one of the nation’s top two cancer centers in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Hospitals” survey.
NanoString Technologies, Inc.
MD Anderson Cancer Center
NanoString Technologies, Inc.
MD Anderson Cancer Center