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New microRNA Analysis Tools from Applied Biosystems Advance Cancer Research

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Applied Biosystems has announced that it has developed a new set of sophisticated miRNA analysis tools designed to determine the activity, or profile the expression levels, of large numbers of miRNA molecules from trace amounts of RNA sample.

According to Company, these TaqMan-based tools require the smallest amount of starting genetic material needed for miRNA expression profiling applications compared to existing miRNA analysis tools. Use of these tools is expected to streamline miRNA analysis workflows for researchers and provide comprehensive coverage of miRNAs expressed in cancer cell line and tumor samples, advancing scientists’ understanding of the different roles that miRNAs play in the development and progression of cancer, the company says.

Previous research has shown that by profiling expression patterns of miRNAs, scientists can identify potential miRNA biomarkers that classify different disease types and identify disease susceptibility.

In addition, miRNA expression profiling is helping researchers to understand the nature of cancer stem cells, which play a key role in the resistance of cancers to conventional therapies. Expression profiles of miRNAs have also revealed clues about how tumours metastasize and spread to other regions of the body.

However, researchers performing these kinds of miRNA analysis applications for cancer research often face the challenge of only being able to obtain tiny amounts of RNA from cancerous samples, the starting genetic material needed to carry out these investigative studies. 

On Saturday, April 12, at the annual American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) conference in San Diego, California, USA, Caifu Chen, PhD, an Applied Biosystems scientific fellow for research and development, will describe a new set of miRNA analysis tools at a methods workshop. These tools are currently available in limited release through an early access programme. When used together, these tools will provide researchers with a TaqMan-based solution designed to streamline the workflow for miRNA analysis and provide broad, up-to-date coverage of known miRNAs expressed in biological samples, including samples that contain minute amounts of RNA. The tools include:

• Megaplex™ RT Pools – high complexity pools of stem-looped reverse transcription (RT) primers that reduce the number of RT reactions needed to profile miRNA expression and the total RNA input needed to perform this analysis to as little as a few nanograms.

• Megaplex™ PreAmp Primers – reagents for pre-amplification of the starting RNA sample. TaqMan MicroRNA Arrays – a microfluidics card containing TaqMan MicroRNA Assays enabling rapid and reproducible generation of real-time PCR data for hundreds of miRNA targets in parallel.

“Together, these tools give researchers a powerful technology that allows them to create comprehensive profiles of miRNAs expressed in cancer samples,” said Dr Chen. “The use of these new TaqMan miRNA analysis tools should help researchers develop biomarkers for cancer, better understand cancer stem cells, and further elucidate the role of miRNAs in the development and progression of cancer.”