RainDance Technologies, Inc. announced the commercial availability of the HLASeq Research Screening Panel, a comprehensive genetic screening solution for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) research using next-generation sequencing technology. The announcement was made at the annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting in Orlando, Florida.
“These new products are part of our commitment to deliver innovative solutions using our proprietary microdroplet technology, by enabling researchers to conduct studies that were impossible with existing technologies.”
The HLA super locus is one of the most complex regions in the human genome due to the extreme levels of polymorphism and linkage disequilibrium. The region contains more than 200 protein-coding genes that play key roles in immune function and defense1 as well as 6,000 named alleles2. Although many autoimmune diseases occur with low incidence, collectively they have high prevalence and affect millions of people around the world.
The systematic mapping of HLA associations for common diseases can only be done using next-generation DNA sequencing, but current cost and technology constraints have made it difficult for researchers to detect many of the important disease-specific susceptibility and protective markers. The RainDance HLASeq panel provides the most extensive coverage of genes in the MHC region, enabling comprehensive cataloging of variation in complex HLA-associated disorders without interference from closely related sequences across the genome.
“The ability to routinely interrogate the entire HLA region using next-generation sequencing has the potential to significantly advance our understanding of these essential players in the regulation of human immune function,” said Nicholas Schork, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego and Professor, The Scripps Research Institute. “We have been very impressed with the initial results we’ve generated using the RainDance HLASeq panel, particularly its coverage of the entire HLA super locus and the completeness of the data from all of the genes that encompass this complex region.”
The HLASeq Research Screening Panel is a single assay that enables scientists to interrogate the entire HLA super locus (a 3.8Mb gene-rich region on 6p21.3) with unprecedented and unbiased single-base resolution of both common and rare genomic mutations. The HLASeq panel tiles amplicons across the entire HLA super locus, providing scientists with the ability to apply next-generation sequencing technology to generate ultra-high resolution HLA typing.
The HLASeq panel was developed and validated in collaboration with Expression Analysis (EA), a long-time provider of services on the RDT 1000 platform, using RainDance’s proprietary primer design methods and microdroplet-based PCR.
“At EA, we continually seek out innovative solutions and collaborators with unique genomic know-how that help our customers push the boundaries of what’s possible in clinical research,” added Steve McPhail, President and CEO of EA. “We have been extremely impressed with the number of new applications and defined content panels being developed by RainDance, including the HLASeq panel which we will offer as part of our growing portfolio of genomic services.”
The RainDance HLASeq Research Screening Panel utilizes next-generation sequencing technology to offer comprehensive coverage of the HLA super locus, including all Class I (HLA-A, -B, -C, -E, -F, -G, -K and -L) and Class II (HLA-DMA, -DOA, -DPA, -DQA, -DRA, -DMB, -DOB, -DPB1, -DQ1B1, -DQB2, as well as DRB1, -3, -4 and -5) genes, as well as several minor HLA antigen genes. HLASeq’s coverage spans all of the exons and introns for the genes found within this contiguous locus.
“The HLASeq panel is the latest addition to RainDance’s growing portfolio of research screening panels and provides customers with a powerful tool to discover and routinely analyze causative mutations associated with many of the most complex immune disorders,” said Roopom Banerjee, CEO of RainDance Technologies. “These new products are part of our commitment to deliver innovative solutions using our proprietary microdroplet technology, by enabling researchers to conduct studies that were impossible with existing technologies.”
The panel leverages RainDance’s innovative microdroplet-based platform, which produces more than one million picoliter-size droplets – each of which represents a single-molecule PCR reaction – in less than one hour. The power, simplicity and precision of the RainDance technology enable researchers to solve complex biological questions relating to organ transplantation, as well as autoimmune diseases and forensics, with unprecedented sensitivity and specificity.