SAN DIEGO—Agena Bioscience, a global leader in genetic analysis and reagents, recently announced a new collaboration with PerkinElmer, known for its capacity in detection, imaging, informatics and service capabilities. The companies are joining forces to optimize liquid biopsy workflow. By teaming PerkinElmer’s LapChip GX Touch DNA analyzer with Agena’s MassARRAY workflow, both companies believe they can optimize the efficiency and the effectiveness of liquid biopsies for the customers of both companies.
“The collaboration is really about bringing together two technologies to provide a great solution for our shared customers working in liquid biopsy,” according to Peter Dansky, CEO at Agena Bioscience. “Though labs using our systems can process thousands of samples per day, it’s not as much about adding capacity as ensuring high-quality results for this rapid growth application in oncology.”
Liquid biopsies, involving analysis of blood samples to identify genetic aberrations in cancerous lesions, add a powerful tool to cancer diagnosis and treatment. Solid tumor biopsies may not always be possible due to the invasive nature of specimen collection, so the technological advances that allow for detecting cancer-related mutations in blood are a welcome option in oncology. The development of matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) devices has revolutionized the routine identification of microorganisms in clinical microbiology laboratories by introducing an easy, rapid, high-throughput, low-cost and efficient identification technique.
According to the Agena website, their MALDI-TOF, the MassARRAY System, is “a non-fluorescent detection platform utilizing mass spectrometry to accurately measure PCR-derived amplicons. Mass spectrometry, coupled with end point PCR, enables highly multiplexed reactions under universal cycling conditions to provide accurate, rapid and cost-effective analysis. The MassARRAY System offers a unique solution for targeted genetic testing with limited input material.”
The complementary capacity of PerkinElmer’s LabChip GX Touch system allows rapid quantitation and sizing of DNA samples in the upfront workflow of the MassARRAY System. The LabChipGX Touch helps to ensure that sufficient DNA is present in the sample to achieve the sensitivity capabilities of Agena’s liquid biopsy chemistry (down to 0.1 percent), while efficiently identifying samples compromised by pre-analytical variables that could result in false negative results. This allows for a faster and higher-quality workflow, able to process thousands of samples, each interrogating hundreds of clinically relevant oncology markers in a single day.
“We found the speed of Agena’s MassARRAY workflow and the sensitivity of their UltraSEEK liquid biopsy assay to be an ideal pairing with the rapid quality assessment using our LabChip GX Touch system,” said Mark Dupal, PerkinElmer’s Global portfolio manager of automation and microfluidics, applied genomics.
According to Dansky, the impetus of the partnership began from a conversation Agena had with a customer working in liquid biopsy testing, who commented on the urgency of knowing DNA quality in liquid biopsy testing and their exploration of different technologies to use in their lab. They saw that PerkinElmer’s LabChip GX Touch could match the rapid turnaround time and 96- and 384-well format of MassARRAY, which was the catalyst for the dialogue between the two partners.
“That led to our joint work to study the effects of combining the LabChip nucleic acid analyzer’s sample qualification with our UltraSEEK assay to control pre-analytical variables and deliver robust reproducible liquid biopsy analysis. This work went smoothly, and we jointly presented this workflow at a GenomeWeb webinar this year,” explained Dansky.
Liquid biopsy science continues to evolve, and it has not yet completely replaced the solid tissue biopsy. Some cancers cannot be accurately and comprehensively diagnosed or subtyped without traditional histology. Likewise, mutations detected in a plasma sample may not be directly correlated to a specific cancer type or subtype, and could potentially lead to false or inaccurate diagnoses. Nonetheless, it does represent a promising future, and one that many companies are working to perfect.
“Our customers recognize the proven sensitivity of MALDI-TOF, but also benefit from the rapid analysis of highly multiplexed panels with high-throughput capabilities,” asserts Dansky. “We are always working to improve our customer experience, and when there’s a clear benefit, we partner with corporations and collaborators that can contribute unique technology or expertise. At this time, we will continue to focus our collaboration efforts on oncology liquid biopsy.”