OriGene officials say the company is developing products that provide detailed insights into stem-cell research and into disease echanisms, such as those that lead to cancer.

OriGene Technologies was founded as a research tool company focused on the creation of a large commercial collection of full-length human cDNAs in a standard expression vector. Company officials say the firm’s mission is to prepare comprehensive, genome-wide research tools and technology platforms to allow scientists to better study complete biological pathways. The goal is to enable more detailed insights into stem-cell research and into disease mechanisms, such as those that lead to cancer.

GEN recently spoke to Minjun Liu, Ph.D., during a sponsored podcast. She is the marketing director for OriGene. You can hear the full podcast interview here.

GEN: Tell us a little more about OriGene and its products.

Dr. Liu: Although OriGene was and is known for its cDNA clones, the company has evolved to offer recombinant proteins and antibodies. For gene knockdown or knockout, the company also offers RNAi and CRISPR products.

GEN: What is a lentivirus and why is it needed in life science research?

Dr. Liu: Lentivirus is an efficient gene-delivery tool. It is modified from HIV-1. The lentiviral vector was engineered not to contain any viral-coding genes so the gene of interest can be cloned into the vector. The other necessary viral genes for replication and viral packaging are provided separately.

GEN: Why use lentivirus as a gene delivery tool?

Dr. Liu: There is a need for gene delivery. Chemical-based transfection reagents fail to deliver genes in many cells, including primary cells and hard-to-transfect cells. Therefore, lentivirus was developed as an efficient gene delivery tool. First, the transduction efficiency of lentivirus is high for most commonly used cell lines; it is easy to achieve 100% of delivery rate. Second, it covers a broad cell range: Lentivirus can infect both dividing and non-dividing cells, including primary cells and hard-to-transfect cells.

GEN: If a scientist needs to express a gene in cells, what type of lentivirus products should the scientist get?

Dr. Liu: For in vitro cell cultures, our catalog lentiviral products can be used. There are two formats of the lenti products—lentiviral plasmid and ready-to-use lentiviral particles. If you get lentiviral plasmids, you can package the particles in your own lab. We have an efficient lenti packaging kit. If you want to save time, you can get the ready-to-use viral particles. After receiving the particles, they can be directly added to the cells and two days later, gene expression can be analyzed.

GEN: When working with lentivirus, are there any biosafety concerns?

Dr. Liu: A lentiviral vector only contains long terminal repeats (LTRs), a packaging signal, and the gene of interest so the pseudoparticles can only infect the target cells. They are replication deficient, and no virus will be produced after infecting target cells. Research-grade lentiviruses are considered biosafety level 2, which is similar to tissue cultures. OriGene also markets third-generation lentiviral vectors, which are even safer. If you know how to handle routine tissue cultures, you know how to handle lentivirus.

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