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GEN News Highlights : Nov 18, 2009

NanoString and Broad Institute Forge Pact to Advance Understanding of Molecular Networks

NanoString’s gene-profiling platform will be used to study immune response and other processes.

NanoString Technologies is allying with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to investigate molecular networks involved in immune response and other important biological processes. The three-year collaboration is also designed to explore ways to expand how NanoString’s next-generation digital gene-expression technology can be applied to improve basic and clinical research.

As part of the collaboration, the Broad Institute will use NanoString’s nCounter™ Analysis System to decipher entire networks of genes to identify how these genes work together to carry out biological functions. To support this effort, NanoString will design custom CodeSets (molecular barcodes associated with the genes of interest) based on gene signatures identified by Broad investigators. These gene sets may eventually be developed into commercially available assay panels for the nCounter system.

“NanoString offers the ability to look at hundreds of genetic markers across many samples at relatively low cost and with high sensitivity,” according to Eric Lander, D.Phil., director of the Broad Institute. “They have developed exciting technology with potential applications to a wide range of scientific problems.”

Last month, scientists at the Broad Institute, NanoString, and Massachusetts General Hospital published a study in Science Express that demonstrated the nCounter’s ability to elucidate complex circuitry involved in pathogen recognition in mammalian cells. The study also offered a practical approach for unraveling the gene networks that underpin other important biological systems.

The current collaboration will expand upon this published work and explore additional gene networks involved in innate and adaptive immunity, stem cell differentiation, and noncoding RNA function including the regulatory roles of the recently discovered long intervening noncoding RNAs.