Australian gene technology launched in U.S.

11 Nov 2008

A new gene expression analysis platform developed in collaboration between Australian scientists and Invitrogen Corporation to help other researchers understand fundamental aspects of human development has been launched in the U.S. market.

IMBcom Pty Ltd and Invitrogen Corporation have partnered to commercialise the proprietary non-coding RNA content developed by researchers at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) at The University of Queensland.

Professor John Mattick and Dr Marcel Dinger from the IMB developed content that was exclusively licensed to Invitrogen for the first commercially available high-density microarray chip, the NCodeTM Human and Mouse non-coding RNA microarray, which can be used by researchers to profile both messenger and non-coding RNAs.

Standard microarray chips interrogate messenger RNAs to determine which genes are active in a cell at any particular moment in time. Non-coding RNAs are not traditional genes, as they do not produce proteins, but they appear to comprise a vast hidden layer of genetic programming implicated in development and disease pathways in mammals.

"Non-coding RNA transcripts play a variety of roles in a cell, ranging from simple housekeeping to complex regulatory functions, and evidence is mounting that their expression is perturbed in many cancers," Professor Mattick said.

"Because their function remains largely unknown, these transcripts represent a new frontier of molecular genetic, molecular biological, physiological and cell biological research."

IMBcom, UQ's company for the commercialisation of intellectual property arising from research conducted at the IMB, licensed the non-coding RNA content to Invitrogen, which will market and sell the arrays built using this content.

"When we talked to scientists about their interest in studying non-coding RNA, many told us they wanted a microarray that consisted of both mRNA and non-coding RNA content, which would help them elucidate the function of specific non-coding RNAs in relation to known pathways for gene expression," Amy Butler, Vice President of Gene Expression Profiling for Invitrogen, said.

The NCodeTM microarray answers this need, with thousands of coding and non-coding sequences that could answer multiple scientific questions in a single experiment.

Media contacts:
Professor John Mattick - 07 3346 2079
Dr Marcel Dinger - 07 3346 2080
Dr Peter Isdale (CEO of IMBcom) - 07 3346 2180
Bronwyn Adams (IMB Communications) - 07 3346 2134 or 0418 575 247