Variations in the genetic code, often single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), have been linked to an individual's propensity to suffer from a disease. In addition, they can be used to predict a patient's response to a drug treatment as well as for pathogen identification. For the information to be useful across populations, large numbers of samples need to be studied to obtain statistically significant data, leading to a need for HT systems that can measure increasing numbers of samples and variations. The new agreement between Applied Biosystems (ABI) and BioTrove is aiming to provide a system that will be able to conduct high-throughput genotyping assays by combining ABI's TaqMan PCR (polymerase chain reaction) -based assays with BioTrove's HT OpenArray platform. While PCR-based genotyping methods provide some of the most reliable data available, there has been a trend for them to be superseded by higher-throughput techniques such as DNA microarrays and mass spectrometry. "We believe customers will use the OpenArray when they have identified a small panel of SNPs that they wish to screen across thousands of samples in a simple workflow and high throughput manner," said Lauren Lum, senior PR manager at ABI. BioTrove's OpenArray system is an automated nanolitre fluidic system that enables 'massively parallel' low-volume solution phase reactions to be performed. The system can run over 3,000 assays per plate with each experiment needing only 33nl, reducing regent consumption dramatically. In addition, BioTrove's OpenArray NT Cycler can run three plates simultaneously, increasing the throughput of the system to over 9,000 assays. "The strength of the product design resulting from this collaboration provides researchers in public and private industries with the speed, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness of the BioTrove OpenArray platform and the specificity and reproducibility of Applied Biosystems' comprehensive line of TaqMan assay products - all in a single solution," said Dr Al Luderer, CEO of BioTrove. "By streamlining researchers' genotyping workflows, we are accelerating the discovery and utilisation of science impacting public health." Under the terms of the agreement ABI will develop and market custom-built pre-loaded arrays of TaqMan SNP genotyping assays to enable easy, accurate and reproducible manner. ABI will retain all rights to commercialise genotyping applications, even those not based on its TaqMan technology. In addition, the company will retain an option to collaborate with BioTrove to develop the OpenArray platform for gene expression applications. In a separate agreement, ABI has granted a worldwide license to BioTrove to its real-time thermal cycler, microfluidic and data analysis patents The collaboration will see the two companies expand the range of applications for the TaqMan technology for genomic applications, as each OpenArray plate can conduct over 3,000 different assays per plate. Researchers will be able to select assays from ABI's line of more than 4.5m individual TaqMan SNP or DME (drug metabolism) genotyping assays that will be pre-loaded onto BioTrove's OpenArray plates. Customers will then be able to use an automated loader to introduce their DNA samples onto the arrays and after a short processing time use the systems accompanying software to determine the genotype of the samples. This agreement ends a busy month for BioTrove, during which it also started a collaboration with Agilent to deliver ultra high throughput (UHT) sample preparation and mass spectrometry systems to speed up the analysis of in vitro assays used in drug discovery programmes.