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July 2, 2002
Olympus Completes Joint Development of Next-Generation DNA Microarray System with Dutch Firm PamGene
3-D Structure Chip Substrate Reduces Reaction Time Tenfold
Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. (President: Tsuyoshi Kikukawa) has completed the joint development of a next-generation DNA microarray (Note 1) system in conjunction with PamGene B.V. (Head Office: `s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands; CEO: Tim Kievits). In this DNA microarray system, probes of disease-related genes being targeted are fixed onto an innovative three-dimensional porous substrate structure. This creates an efficient method of reaction with the sample, shortening to less-than-tenfold (=approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours) in the time required to assay* relative to conventional methods. The system thus enables rapid, high-precision gene analyses. Olympus plans to market an integrated system based on this technology that can control both the hybridization reaction and signal detection processes.
* Comparison based on assay time following sample input accurate at time of press release
DNA microarrays have become an indispensable research tool in the analysis of gene function. Conventional microarrays employ a flat substrate such as a glass slide for probe printing. However, employing an innovative three-dimensional substrate "a multi-porous membrane" for probe printing in the new microarray, the effective gene analysis is realized. The probe DNAs are fixed in position within each micropore, and the solution containing the sample genetic material is then pumped repeatedly through the three-dimensional porous structure under the controlled temperature conditions. This boosts both the efficiency and the specificity of the DNA hybridization reactions involved. The time required from sample input to data acquisition is shortened drastically, to less than 10% of the time typically required with conventional microarrays. An added benefit is that this procedure solves another problem that has plagued conventional methods--that of reproducing results reliably. Olympus expects this combination of high speed and precision, which is likely to be especially useful in conjunction with DNA probes that contain relatively small numbers (several tens or hundreds) of target genes selected for specific purposes, will tend to promote the future widespread use of this new DNA microarray as a reliable focused array (Note 2), not only in research applications but also within the broader diagnostic testing market.

Possible applications of this new DNA microarray system abound. Not only could it play an important role in the analysis of gene function, such as in gene expression profiling (Note 3), but its kinetic measurement (Note 4) capabilities, which combine real-time signal detection with temperature reaction control (a world first), imply possible applications in analytical fields such as gene mutation (Note 5) and SNP analysis (Note 6), which require the high-precision detection of sequence changes due to single base-pairs. Olympus also plans to market microarray tailoring services to allow users to load the system with specific made-to-order DNA probes.

Olympus is continuing to evaluate the technical capabilities of the new DNA microarray system in Japan, and PamGene is doing the same in Europe. Olympus is undertaking joint research in the field in Japan with various academic groups, led by Prof. Tomoyuki Shirai, who works in clinical oncology research at the Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Prof. Shoji Fukushima, a researcher in urban environmental pathology at the Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, and Seiko Tamano, the president of Daiyu-kai Institute of medical science. This academic research is mainly concerned with the potential application of the new DNA microarray technology to toxicity evaluations (Note 7) of chemical substances--specifically, investigations to determine carcinogenicity.
Olympus plans to continue to actively seek to collaborate with universities and other research institutions in the development of applications for this technology. By supporting research into gene function, the company hopes to make a significant contribution to a society where medical treatments can be patient-customized.
Magnified figure of microarray cross-section
Structural Diagrams for Microarray
Structural Diagrams for Microarray
Structural Diagrams for Microarray
Next-generation DNA microarray developed jointly with PamGene Next-generation DNA microarray developed jointly with PamGene
Next-generation DNA microarray developed jointly with PamGene Next-generation DNA microarray developed jointly with PamGene
Next-generation DNA microarray developed jointly with PamGene
Technical Notes
1) DNA microarray
  A DNA microarray is a sensor device for the detection and analysis of expression and mutation over large numbers of genes. It works by fixing DNA probes designed for specific detection purposes onto probe spots a hundred microns in diameter that are arranged on a glass slide or other substrate.
2) Focused array
  A focused array is a microarray loaded with a relatively small number of DNA probes (several tens or hundreds) that contain target genes selected for specific purposes.
3) Gene expression profiling
  Gene expression profiling measures the quantity and variety of numerous messenger RNAs (mRNA: the nucleic acid that transmits genetic information from DNA before its expression in proteins) expressed within a cell.
4) Kinetic measurement
  Kinetic measurement of a reaction involves analysis of the nature of the variation in the speed of the reaction under various conditions, which helps to elucidate the detailed mechanism of the reaction.
5) Gene mutation
  Gene mutation involves changes in the genetic information encoded in DNA through the substitution, insertion or deletion of portions of the affected gene's base-pair sequence, which causes the loss of the original information. Such mutation can be a factor in the genesis of diseases such as cancer.
6) SNP analysis
  The phenomenon of Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) refers to differences of a single base pair within a genomic DNA sequence of 300-500 base pairs; the study of such differences within the human population is expected to yield genetic markers that could signal a person's susceptibility to a certain disease, or else provide clues as to the likely response to a drug and its possible side-effect profile.
7) Toxicity evaluation of chemical substances
  This refers to the evaluation of the safety of chemical substances with respect to ecosystems, including humans.
Company Information
Chief Executive Officer : Tim Kievits
Address : Burgemeester Loeffplein 70A 5211 RX 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Tel : +31 (0)73 615 80 80  Fax: +31 (0)73 615 80 81
Business Outline : PamGene is a post-genomics biotech company, which has patented technologies for a second-generation microarray platform and an expression profiling system. Its major shareholders include GIMV, Alta Partner, Life Science Partner, and, of course, Olympus Optical, PamGene's strategic partner. The new microarray jointly developed by PamGene and Olympus delivers faster, more accurate gene analysis at lower cost. PamGene will supply this technology for a variety of purposes such as academic research, pharma and biotech R&D, and health management, as well as for non-pharma life science applications in agriculture and food production. With its extensive product lineup based on microarray core technology, PamGene is strongly committed to contributing to new pharmaceuticals development, academic research, health management, and biotechnology research.
*Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. was changed to OLYMPUS CORPORATION as of October 1, 2003.
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