NuGEN, Hamilton automate sample prep

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SAN CARLOS, Calif.—Working at the suggestion of a large pharmaceutical client common to both companies, NuGEN Technologies Inc. and Hamilton Co. recently announced they have cooperatively assembled an automated, total target preparation solution to address the high-throughput challenges required in processing large sets of clinical samples for global gene expression analysis. The validated solution leverages the NuGEN Ovation Systems RNA amplication and target preparation products with Hamilton's MicroLab STAR, a benchtop liquid handling and automation system.

"Our customers, large pharma and academic centers face a broad number of challenges in their work," says Joe Don Heath, senior director of technical marketing and automation solutions with NuGEN. "They need to recognize a good return on investment and they can achieve this through improved workflows, better sensitivity, reproducibility and increased throughput and that is what this solution affords them."

According to company-provided information, the integrated solution created by NuGEN and Hamilton helps researchers manage a broad range of target preparation functions including RNA amplification, purification, fragmentation and labeling for gene expression analysis using Affymetrix GeneChip and HT arrays. NuGEN's technology allows researchers to process RNA from a number a diverse set of available clinical samples including whole blood, biopsies and laser-captured micro-dissected specimens.

Pairing Hamilton's liquid handling and automation capabilities with NuGEN's sample prep technologies should make the lives of common customers easier, notes Dr. Ronald Borner, senior product manager, genomics, with Hamilton. "NuGEN brought proven reagents and protocols [and] Hamilton delivered the tools and years of automation expertise," says Borner, in a statement announcing the deal. "Together, we created a solution the customer could easily validate, replicate, and deploy across a range of important studies."

For NuGEN, the Hamilton deal is yet another feather in the company's automation cap and the latest deal of its kind, as the company looks to optimize its products on a number of different automation platforms.

"When we initially launched our amplification systems they were launched in a manual format," says Heath. "Since then, we have had several opportunities to automate our amplification technologies on different platforms. Our strategy is driven by customer need and that is to provide easy-to-automation amplification systems."

Notably, NuGEN has completed similar work with other automation industry workhorses including Beckman Coulter and Caliper. Like most providers of kits and reagents focused on genomics research, NuGEN strives to be "platform agnostic" as a means to be able to reach the broadest segment of the market possible.

In all these instances, there is no specific or exclusive co-marketing agreement, nor is there any distribution agreement in place. NuGEN will promote its compatibility with Hamilton's MicroStar system via information on its Web site and will, as with other collaborations, provide data to interested customers on how they can improve both their workflows and results using its products on a specific automation platform.

As for the work with Hamilton, Heath notes it was important for NuGEN, especially considering the strength and penetration of the Hamilton brand in Europe. "They are especially strong there and this should help us in that market," he says.

Further, the initial work between the companies may only be the start, as Heath hints the companies may look to automate other NuGEN amplification systems on Hamilton platforms. 

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