PRLog - Oct. 20, 2010 - NORCROSS, Ga. -- RayBiotech, Inc., a leading developer and supplier of multiplex protein and antibody arrays, was recently awarded a federally funded research grant to develop a cost-effective diagnostic test for endometriosis, an enigmatic reproductive disease in women. Their grant is funded by the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), a competitive grant program administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with the intent of stimulating technological innovation in the small business community.
Over the last decade, RayBiotech has pioneered the development of antibody and protein arrays for the rapid detection of multiple disease-related proteins in biological specimens. This technology will be utilized in RayBiotech’s newly funded research project to identify key protein biomarkers from endometrial biopsy samples.
A gynecological disease in which endometrial tissue grows in abnormal locations outside the uterine cavity, endometriosis affects roughly 10% of women of reproductive age (176 million women worldwide). Endometriosis is a major cause of female infertility and is often accompanied by debilitating pelvic pain.
Currently, diagnosis of endometriosis requires laparoscopic surgery to visually inspect the inside of the pelvis and abdomen. A less invasive and costly diagnostic alternative is desperately needed. The hope is that the discovery of a robust biomarker signature will pave the way for an accurate, inexpensive diagnostic test for endometriosis as an alternative to surgery.
This is not RayBiotech’s first foray into protein biomarker discovery. A recent publication in Cancer Genomics & Proteomics (Huang, et al. 2010;7:129-142.)
Another high-profile example of the application of antibody arrays to biomarker discovery was illustrated in the November 2007 edition of the peer‐reviewed scientific journal, Nature Medicine (Ray, et al.). In this study, antibody arrays from RayBiotech were used to screen for 120 different proteins, resulting in the identification of a panel of 18 biomarkers in serum that could correctly predict with 81% accuracy the onset of Alzheimer’s disease up to 5 years before symptoms appeared.
“Antibody array technology represents a new paradigm for biomarker proteomics that has the potential to accelerate biomarker discovery and validation compared to traditional methods of proteomics,”
The prevailing approach to protein biomarker discovery employs 2‐D gel electrophoresis and various methods of mass spectrometry. These traditional proteomic techniques can be very expensive, cumbersome, and unsuitable for high‐throughput sample testing. By contrast, antibody arrays allow high-content screening for hundreds of proteins very quickly and at a fraction of the cost of these more established techniques.
In addition, 2-D gels and mass spectrometry work well for detection of highly abundant proteins, but they lack the sensitivity to detect important cytokines, growth factors, and other disease-related proteins that are often present at low concentrations in body fluids (low pg/ml range). Antibody-
Most importantly, biomarker discovery using immunoassays allows a seamless transition to biomarker validation and development of a diagnostic test suitable for clinical use. Antibody-based immunodiagnostics are already routinely used and widely accepted in the clinic, whilst mass spectrometry remains a research-only technique that requires expensive, dedicated equipment and highly trained personnel. As such, validation of protein biomarkers in a larger, more heterogeneous population and clinical applications, such as diagnostics, most often require the development of immunoassays. If potential protein biomarkers are identified using antibody arrays, the same antibodies used to search for the biomarkers can be used to validate them and, potentially, to develop a diagnostic test.
“Nearly every antibody used in our screening arrays is used in both our ELISA kits and our Quantibody® multiplex ELISA platform,” explains Dr. Huang. “Thus, researchers can screen for potential biomarkers and validate them using the same antibodies from start to finish. This STTR grant provides RayBiotech an opportunity to demonstrate the practical application of antibody-based proteomics to the urgent need for a novel diagnostic for endometriosis.”
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RayBiotech, Inc., introduced the first commercially available cytokine antibody array in 2001. Since then, RayBiotech array products have been featured in hundreds of publications, including some in top-tier journals: Nature, Nature Medicine, Cell, Lancet, PNAS (USA), and many others. Offering more antibody array choices than any of its competitors, RayBiotech continues to lead in the development of protein array technologies. A spin-off from Emory University’s School of Medicine, RayBiotech is privately owned, with headquarters in metropolitan Atlanta (Norcross, GA).