Stratagene, Rosetta team up to automate RNA isolation, purification

In a move that is largely aimed at clinical trial-level work but which has implications for drug discovery as well, Stratagene has entered into a joint development and license agreement with Rosetta Inpharmatics LLC.

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LA JOLLA, Calif.—In a move that is largely aimed at clinical trial-level work but which has implications for drug discovery as well, Stratagene Corp., a developer and market­er of life science research and diagnostics products, has entered into a joint develop­ment and license agreement with Rosetta Inpharmatics LLC, a wholly-owned subsid­iary of Merck & Co., to create an automated solution for the isolation of nucleic acids.
As Stratagene notes, nucleic acid purifi­cation allows researchers to separate RNA contained in biological samples for use in performing gene expression analysis and other molecular diagnostic functions.
"The objective is to archive DNA and RNA samples from patients in clinical trials. But to do that in fairly high-throughput fashion, an instrument and disposable is needed so that each sample is processed consistently and at high quality," explains Dr. Joseph A. Sorge, president and CEO of Stratagene.
Stratagene is interested primarily in look­ing at RNA profiling for its ability to contrib­ute to molecular diagnostics and prognos­tics, so the company is focused on making sure that the sample collection method is efficient and consistent and does not unfa­vorably influence RNA expression patterns.
Although the solution is being created to make the clinical trial process easier on researchers, the ability to obtain a very reproducible snapshot of an RNA expression profile also would be useful in the discovery phase of drug development, Sorge notes, particularly for looking at patterns that help identify potential toxicity.
"This agreement with Rosetta Inpharmatics is a significant opportunity for Stratagene and marks another milestone in our molecular diagnostics strategy," Sorge adds. "We believe we have a unique opportunity to create and introduce a differentiated prod­uct that will automate the RNA purification process and provide consistent, reproducible results. These two characteristics are criti­cal capabilities in gene expression analysis."
Under the terms of the agree­ment, Stratagene and Rosetta will jointly develop a proprietary instrument and a single-use con­sumable to be manufactured and commercialized by Stratagene, to be sold to Stratagene's current cus­tomer base and companies engaged in pharmacogenomics.
Financial terms of the agree­ment were not disclosed, but Sorge did explain that both Merck and Stratagene have invested funds into development, and Merck has granted Stratagene an exclusive license to certain core technology for RNA purification. In exchange, Stratagene will pay royalties on sales of the final product.

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