Agilent and Millipore join forces to further epigenetics research

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Gene expression Dna

Agilent and Millipore have formed a collaboration to develop fully validated chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) microarray kits that will improve productivity and streamline epigenetic analysis.

The kits will combine Millipore’s offering of modification state specific antibodies, the largest on the market, with Agilent’s high quality microarrays to provide a fully validated, higher throughput method that will simplify the way researchers study genetic information.

“This collaboration brings together two industry leaders to improve scientific workflows for epigenetic researchers,”​ said Geoffrey Crouse, vice president of Millipore’s Life Science Strategic Business Unit.

“We expect to help epigenetics researchers minimize the barriers of entry into chromatin state mapping, readily obtain reproducible genomic profiling data, and overcome the traditional challenges of ChIP assays.”

Epigenetics is the study of heritable modifications that regulate gene expression, but do not change the DNA sequence itself.

These epigenetic variations can be used to identify biomarkers for clinical research and prognostic purposes as there are often epigenetic differences between normal and diseased tissues.

While gene expression analysis experiments provide an idea of how many copies of genes are transcribed, they do not provide a high level view on global transcription regulation.

One way that genes are regulated is through the remodelling of the DNA-histone complex known as chromatin. If the way that the DNA wraps itself around the histone chain changes, different sequences are exposed leading to a change in gene expression.

Alternatively, gene expression can be regulated through DNA methylation, a process that involves converting a cytosine nucleotide in a gene to 5-methylcytosine, which blocks cells from ‘reading’ that gene.

“Traditional methods of studying epigenetics, such as ChiP-PCR [polymerase chain reaction] or in vivo DNA footprinting do not allow researchers to view regulatory networks or DNA methylation patterns on a global scale,”​ said Rini Saxena, Methylation and ChIP-on-chip senior product manager at Agilent.

“This stops researchers from identifying new targets of regulation and hinders research into the causes of diseases like cancer and imprinting diseases such as Prader-Willi and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome.”

According to Saxena, the microarray ChiP-on-chip approach enables researchers to see epigenetic changes on a global scale and create regulatory network paths.

However, she believes that one of the major hurdles was, until now, the need to validate the antibodies for use with the microarrays. Additionally, they had to validate the reagents and methods used during the upstream processing steps which also took a lot of time.

The companies are aiming to remove these hurdles with Millipore validating its antibodies for use on the Agilent microarray platform as well as providing recommended reagents and protocols.

“While our competitors may provide the microarrays or the upstream sample preparation reagents, this is the first time anyone has brought together everything a researcher needs in one place to ensure they spend their time conducting useful research and not tedious validation experiments,”​ said Saxena.

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