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How it Works: A Personal Microarray System

The GeneAtlas System is the first personal microarray solution that makes the power of microarrays accessible to life scientists in their own labs.

by affymetrix
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Problem: Many life scientists who need a whole-genome view of complex biological questions are limited by budget or inhibited by the complexity of microarray systems and data analysis. As a result, they are forced to outsource their experiments or use less powerful technologies with a limited view of the genome like qPCR. Microarray processing on existing platforms can be time consuming, error prone, and complicated. Additionally, turning raw data into answers can be a difficult road for biologists to travel.

Solution: The GeneAtlas™ System is the first personal microarray solution that makes the power of microarrays accessible to life scientists in their own labs. The system comes with everything needed to get biologically relevant results, all in an easy-to-use package. The GeneAtlas system provides a simple microarray workflow for gene-level expression and integrated analysis software for a whole-genome view. The system’s stations for fluidics, imaging, hybridization and analysis are all integrated into one seamless workflow.

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Target preparation: Processing microarrays begins after isolated RNA has been prepared through either the Affymetrix 3’ IVT labeling assay or the whole-transcript (WT) expression assay. These assays start with as little as 50ng total RNA input, and enable researchers to obtain higher signal-to-noise ratios for detecting more rare transcripts. The assay uses magnetic bead-based purification which enhances recovery.

Hybridization: Once the target is prepared, scientists hybridize their samples to the array by simply pipetting the samples into each microwell of the hybridization tray and aligning the array strip, which takes less than five minutes of hands-on time. Then the assembly is incubated overnight in the GeneAtlas hybridization station.

Wash and stain: This is an automated process that only requires the scientist to perform simple pipetting steps. The researcher aligns the consumables on the quick reference card and pipettes the reagents using the easy-to-follow color codes and instructions. The reagent filled microtiter plate and the hybridized array strip assembly are then transferred to the fluidics station deck. The fluidics station’s robotic arm, powered by intuitive software, does the wash and stain processing automatically without any further user intervention.

Imaging: After washing and staining, the scientist simply moves the strip assembly from the fluidics station to the imaging station’s drawer to start the imaging process, which is also automated through the intuitive software user interface. The imaging station can process four samples in as little as 30 minutes—requiring only one user intervention.

Analysis: The GeneAtlas System makes it easy for scientists to turn raw data into biologically relevant results with wizard-driven workflows and interfaces specifically designed for biologists—not statisticians. This powerful and intuitive software suite takes raw data to biological pathways in just nine clicks.

Array strips for the GeneAtlas System are available in 3’ IVT or wholetranscript (WT) expression designs and include human, mouse, and rat arrays as well as 17 other model organisms. Affymetrix will launch additional applications in the near future. The GeneAtlas is a winner of the Instrument Business Outlook (IBO) 2010 Analytical Instrument Industrial Design Award for its user friendliness and accessibility.

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