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Real-time liquid biopsy
July 2012
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author


SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.Fluxion Biosciences Inc. has come to an initial agreement to partner with Rubicon Genomics in a reagent supply and collaboration program. The collaboration will integrate enrichment methods for rare cells using Fluxion's IsoFlux system with Rubicon's technology for the preparation and amplification of rare cell DNA or RNA using the Rubicon NovaPLEX family of sample preparation kits.  
Fluxion began working with Rubicon for amplification in genomic analyses using the Rubicon PicoPlex single-cell, whole-genome amplification kit. This product targets the pre-implantation genetic diagnostics (PGD), cancer research and stem cell research markets, which require rapid, reproducible amplification to profile patient genotypes, karyotypes and mutations. PicoPlex enables reference labs to begin qPCR, microarray or sequencing analysis less than three hours after collecting patient cells. Specifically, the kit reproducibly amplifies total DNA one million-fold from single cells to produce five micrograms of amplified DNA in less than three hours. Next, Fluxion will use the Rubicon NovaPLEX family of sample preparation kits for the circulating tumor cells (CTC) project. As part of this agreement, Fluxion and Rubicon will apply sample-specific products from Rubicon's amplification portfolio to samples processed by Fluxion's IsoFlux System. These amplified samples will then be optimal for analysis using a variety of genomics techniques, including NGS and PCR-based approaches.
Access to tumor tissue represents one of the most significant challenges in characterizing specific cancers. CTCs disseminate from primary tumors and enter the peripheral bloodstream in very low concentrations. These rare circulating cells have shown promise as an alternative to biopsies of primary tumor tissue, and can be used to characterize tumor status at the molecular level. However, many DNA analysis methods require higher amounts of genetic material than typically can be collected from CTCs. Technologies developed by Fluxion and Rubicon provide for specialized pre-analytical processing of difficult biological samples and enable subsequent analysis using sequencing, microarrays or PCR.
"Fluxion's IsoFlux system provides access to scarce cells," with a real-time "liquid biopsy" that delivers high-quality CTC samples optimized for molecular analysis, says program director Michael Schwartz. The platform utilizes a proprietary microfluidic technology to isolate rare cells with high efficiency.  
"The system employs immuno-magnetic separation via beads that target antigens on the cell surface. We can use different markers to isolate different types of cells," Schwartz says.
Samples processed using the IsoFlux System are immediately ready for downstream analysis. Multiple analytical techniques can be used with IsoFlux samples, including mutation detection, gene expression, sequencing and protein analysis. The system provides much higher cell recovery rates, Schwartz states.
"We control the flow path as it crosses the magnetic field," he adds. "The result is fewer background cells and a high yield of cancer cells. With other systems, it can be tough to remove cells from the substrate, but IsoFlux recovers 90 percent of the cells and moves them to downstream applications such as PCR, FISH, etc. Rubicon products are the gold standard for testing for aneuploidies and mutations in single human cells, and for differential gene expression in formalin-fixed surgical samples. The Rubicon protocols are simpler, faster and more robust than the competition, and they also yield superior analytical results on sequencing, array and PCR platforms."
Rubicon's core competency is the creation of more efficient molecular biology tools for genetic, epigenetic and expression analysis of difficult clinical samples to facilitate gene-based research, drug development, diagnostics and forensics. James Koziarz, the company's CEO, notes that, "Partnering with innovators such as Fluxion is a key element of our strategy for increasing access to our pre-analytical technologies for improving the analysis of DNA and RNA from challenging samples. We look forward to collaborating with Fluxion in the emerging and important field of circulating tumor cell analysis."  
Privately held Rubicon is located in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Code: E071219



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