Streamlined sequencing for sale

Agilent Technologies and Covaris sign co-marketing agreement pairing target enrichment with DNA shearing for next-gen sequencing

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SANTA CLARA, Calif—Agilent Technologies Inc. and Covaris Inc. have inked a co-marketing agreement in which Covaris' S2 DNA shearing technology will be marketed with the Agilent SureSelect Target Enrichment System to streamline next-generation sequencing experiments.
"There were a number of reasons for partnering with Covaris," says Dr. Fred Ernani, Agilent's senior product manager for emerging genomic applications. "Covaris provides an important sample preparation tool for shearing DNA evenly, and it has been adopted by next-generation sequencing thought leaders around the world. As increasing numbers of investigators recognize the value of our SureSelect Target Enrichment System, they see even more value in combining it with Covaris' DNA shearing technology."  

Based on the agreement, Covaris will create a SureSelect-specific accessory kit which will provide customers with "quite a bit of value" that they would not receive otherwise, Ernani adds.

"Agilent recognizes the importance of controlling sample preparation to ensure quality results in sophisticated target selection applications," says Jim Laugharn, Covaris' president and CEO. "Advanced biological applications are currently experiencing exponential growth in data set output. Given this high level of production, it is even more critical to provide an engineered sample preparation process to control the quality of the starting material."

The Agilent SureSelect Target Enrichment System, introduced in February 2009,  increases the speed and cost-efficiency of next-generation sequencing workflows used in life science research by enabling researchers to focus on genomic regions of interest rather than sequencing the entire genome. The Agilent system is based on an in-solution design, making it automation-friendly and easily scalable from 10 reactions through thousands.

Agilent's target enrichment product line offers customer-specified mixtures of up to 55,000 biotinylated RNA probes, delivered in single tubes. The capture probes are 120 base pairs long, the longest currently on the market for this application. Ernani points out that they are "high affinity" oligos. Because they are RNA-based, rather than DNA-based, they have a higher affinity for single-stranded DNA, which makes the probes very effective at capturing DNA-containing unknown mutations, such as single nucleotide polymorphisms, insertions or deletions.

Another Agilent advantage, Ernani says, is its eArray online array creation application tool that allows customers to design their own custom SureSelect mixtures. eArray contains many key genomes and also lets users upload their own sequences.

"Essentially, customers go in and access any number of genomes—for example, exomes on mouse chromosomes 10 and 12.  Then SureSelect designs oligo baits that hybridize to the targets of interest," Ernani explains. This Web-based design tool is the heart of Agilent's custom genomics product manufacturing capability.

The Covaris sample preparation technology is based on its patented Adaptive Focused Acoustic (AFA) technology. The method accelerates next-generation DNA sequencing sample preparation by providing a highly predictable and reproducible DNA shearing methodology to the next-gen workflow while limiting the amount of sample DNA lost in the shearing process. Covaris' Adaptive Focused Acoustic technology has its origins in the sciences of in vivo diagnostic imaging and therapeutic ultrasound, as used in lithotripsy (which uses shock waves to break up stones in the kidney, bladder, or ureter). AFA is packaged in single and multi-sample microprocessor controlled instrumentation, enabling effective, rapid and cost-effective sample processing.

"Since next-generation sequencing workflows are complex and sample failure is costly, Agilent chose to develop its SureSelect protocols using best practice," Ernani says. "Incorporating Covaris' shearing into our protocols made the most sense. So far, SureSelect customers have found our protocols to be very easy to follow and extremely robust, so I believe we've made a good choice to recommend the use of the Covaris S2."

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