The University Health Network (UHN) Microarray Centre, a member of OGI’s Platform Affiliates Program, will receive $10,000 to evaluate several RNA amplification methods that could potentially extend the applicability of the NanoString Technologies (Seattle) proprietary technology, the nCounter™ system, to single cell or other applications constrained by small sample size.
The nCounter™ system, which allows multiplexed gene expression profiling of up to 550 genes in a single reaction, is currently used as a downstream validation tool for microarray analysis, next-generation sequencing data and/or biomarker studies. It can also be used for splice variation analysis, pathway analysis, fusion transcript expression and pathogen detection. Very little data currently exists indicating which amplification technology is best used in conjunction with the nCounter™ system. The UHN Microarray Centre will use the investment from OGI to examine what RNA amplification method works best in combination with the nCounter™ technology, allowing for decreased sample input requirements, potentially down to a single cell – increasingly desirable, for example, in the context of analyzing disease tissue – and thus enabling new and valuable research constrained by limited sample amounts. Gene expression is a key element in the function and development of cells, and tracking cell differentiation, either between different types of normal cells in different types of tissues, or between normal and diseased states; and is being used in applications ranging from understanding and addressing human, plant and animal disease, to developing better-growing and more nutritional food sources, to development of alternative fuel sources.
“Access to cutting-edge technology is key to taking on large-scale projects that will lead to the next generation of genomics resources,” commented Dr. Christian Burks, President and CEO of OGI. “The GTS program is meant to give genomics technology service platforms in Ontario, and scientists collaborating with them, an opportunity to explore and evaluate new technologies that might be used by or provided through the service platforms. We are particularly pleased to be partnering with the UHN Microarray Centre, which has a long track record at the leading edge of microarray applications.”
“This GTS investment will enable us to further evaluate and exploit the full potential of the nCounter™ technology, both as a next-generation gene expression platform, and potentially for a host of broader applications down the road,” commented Neil Winegarden, Head of Operations at UHN Microarray Centre, which provides array-based services such as gene expression profiling and ChIP-on-chip, data analysis, informatics and data mining, scanning services and integrity testing. “We plan to explore the type and degree of bias introduced by various amplification strategies, allowing us to improve or discontinue strategies with poor fidelity or reproducibility.”