New technique simplifies NA analysis

Related tags Gene Dna Rna

An application that will enable direct measurement of nucleic acids
without the need for amplification has been developed by US
Genomics. The application will also allow researchers to perform
validation and characterization of specific microRNAs (miRNA) and
small interfering RNAs (siRNA).

The technology, referred to as a 'trilogy platform', is based on an instrument device and associated reagents and can support a variety of assays in a 96-well format. The application will enable direct measurement of miRNA and siRNA against a panel of all known small RNAs.

The trilogy platform integrates high-acuity optics, florescence detection and nanofluidics to detect individual target molecules directly. This is especially valuable to researchers for molecules that are difficult or impossible to amplify, such as miRNAs, siRNAs and proteins.

Traditional detection techniques rely on amplification of a target molecule, an approach that increases assay cost and complexity and can undermine the researcher's ability to quantitate accurately.

Stephen Defalco, chief executive of US Genomics​ said: "MicroRNA analysis is especially exciting because of the crucial role this new class of small RNAs is believed to play in drug and disease pathways."

"The trilogy platform is the first technology to provide direct quantitation and sensitivity for detecting these important molecules."

MiRNAs and siRNAs play an important role in cell development and disease by controlling the levels and activities of other RNAs and proteins in the cell.

Research conducted at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory has suggested that interventions which target miRNA could help control the activity of genes and form new means of treating diseases.

However, the possibilities of miRNA becoming a viable drug target is not without its challenges. At present, no one has been able to isolate a complex between an miRNA and its target in order to explore the mechanism of gene repression.

Additionally, mammalian miRNA genes exist as multiple forms making it difficult to study by using knockout (gene deletion) approaches. Conventional in situ hybridisation experiments are unreliable as miRNAs are too short to generate a signal.

Dr Victor Ambros, Professor of Genetics at Dartmouth College and a discoverer of miRNAs said: "We understand these small RNAs can be difficult to study and directly quantitate but in the trilogy platform we have a powerful new technology that allows biologists to perform a large number of very sensitive miRNA assays quickly and efficiently."

The interest surrounding RNA has split into two different but inter-related areas. In one, small double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs), and siRNAs, have been used to silence the expression of specific genes at the post transcriptional level by a pathway known as RNA interference (RNAi). In the other, numerous miRNAs, have been shown to regulate target gene expression in various organisms.

Related topics Preclinical Research

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