NuProbe Announces New Research and New Product on DNA Microsatellite Instability

July 26, 2021

HOUSTON, July 26, 2021 – NuProbe Global, a genomics and molecular diagnostics company specialized in ultrasensitive oncology assays, announced research on DNA microsatellites published today in Nucleic Acids Research.  Simultaneously, the company announced the release of the VarTrace® MSI qPCR research use only assay for detection of DNA microsatellite instability (MSI) from tissue or blood samples.

MSI is a genetic condition that is present in roughly 15% of colorectal cancer patients and 30% of endometrial cancer patients.  Cancer patients with MSI generally have better survival rates, and also respond better to immunotherapies.  MSI has been traditionally difficult to detect with qPCR because the DNA sequence contains homopolymers that have unpredictable biochemical and biophysical properties.  By constructing and experimentally validating a thermodynamic model of DNA microsatellite binding, NuProbe scientists overcame the challenges associated with MSI detection.

“The NuProbe VarTrace MSI qPCR assay  allows qPCR-based detection of MSI from tumor tissue and cell-free DNA,” said Alessandro Pinto, Ph.D., Associate Director of Product at NuProbe USA.  “Given the ubiquity and simplicity of qPCR, we expect high adoption of our ultrasensitive assay.”

“Because of the repetitive sequence in DNA microsatellites, there is frequently slippage and stuttering during PCR amplification,“ said Jin-hyung Bae, Ph.D., lead author of the study, and Research Scientist at the Broad Institute at MIT.  “Our studies on the stability of sliding bulges formed during the hybridization of repetitive sequences allows us to better understand and design assays for MSI.”

The VarTrace MSI qPCR assay features a lower limit of detection of 1% variant allele frequency, when compared to gold standard capillary electrophoresis MSI assays in use today.  This allows the NuProbe product to be applied to cell-free DNA from peripheral blood plasma as well as to formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tumor tissue.

“Rapid, simple, affordable, and noninvasive detection of MSI will be very helpful in helping clinicians decide whether to use immunotherapy drugs such as pembrolizumab,” said Amir Jazaeri, M.D., Vice Chair for Clinical Research and the Director of the Gynecologic Cancer Immunotherapy Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of NuProbe.  “This research and assay could potentially help improve outcomes for endometrial cancer patients, many of whom have MSI.”

“Basic research on the biochemical properties of nucleic acids can lead to breakthroughs in molecular diagnostics,” said David Zhang, Ph.D., the senior author on the study, the Head of Innovation at NuProbe, and Associate Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University.  “NuProbe has a long-standing commitment to the pursuit and translation of research on nucleic acids.”

About NuProbe Global

NuProbe is a cutting-edge genomics and molecular diagnostics company with revolutionary molecular technologies to improve the sensitivity of DNA disease biomarkers by over 10-fold. NuProbe has sites in Houston, USA, Shanghai, China and Suzhou, China. NuProbe’s vision is to offer affordable, timely, and accurate disease state information to enable precision medicine and improve patient outcomes.

The VarTrace MSI qPCR  product is For Research Use Only, Not for use in diagnostic procedures.


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