The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and NanoString Technologies Inc, Seattle, a provider of life science tools for translational research and molecular diagnostic products, recently announced a multiyear collaboration to accelerate the development and adoption of a new type of assay based on NanoString’s nCounter analysis system.

The collaboration will involve the development of “multi-omic” assays that simultaneously profile both gene and protein expression, with a primary focus on identifying important biomarkers in the burgeoning field of immuno-oncology as well as extending programs for targeting therapeutics.


Gordon Mills, MD, PhD, MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“These types of assays are designed to provide a powerful tool for comprehensively probing tumor biology,” says Gordon Mills, MD, PhD, chair of systems biology at MD Anderson. “These assays have the potential to capture the biology needed to optimize the use of new cancer therapeutics, especially in the dynamic field of immuno-oncology, where matching patients with the right combination of therapies is critical, initially in clinical trials and then in patient treatment.” Mills is co-director of the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy and will lead the joint collaboration effort.

NanoString intends to introduce new research panels for the simultaneous measurement of gene and protein expression, with the beta launch of the first panel planned for the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting in Philadelphia, April 18–22, 2015. With the addition of this proteomic capability, the nCounter analysis system will hold a unique distinction of having capabilities for concurrent genomic and proteomic analysis.

NanoString’s nCounter analysis system is an automated and easy-to-use platform that utilizes a novel digital barcoding chemistry to deliver high-precision multiplexed assays across a number of important research applications. The system uses color-coded molecular barcodes that can hybridize directly to many different types of target molecules. The company’s nCounter assays are enzyme-free and capable of generating high-quality results from challenging sample types, including FFPE tissue.


Brad Gray, NanoString Technologies.

“Our current PanCancer Pathway and Immune Profiling gene expression panels offer researchers powerful assays for understanding the tug-of-war between the drivers of tumor growth and the immune system’s response,” says Brad Gray, Nanostring president and CEO. “In collaboration with experts at MD Anderson, we will be adding a new proteomic dimension to these assays, and aiming to demonstrate their potential to inform drug development and selection.”

Key objectives of the collaboration include development of new multi-omic assays and signatures that profile key oncology disease pathways and immune response from tumor tissue; incorporation of the multi-omic assays into select clinical studies being run at MD Anderson to predict and monitor response to cancer immunotherapies and targeted therapies, both as single agents and combinations; and identification of clinically actionable proteomic markers across multiple tumor types. Under the terms of the agreement, NanoString is granted rights to research and diagnostic content developed within the scope of the collaboration.

At the 2015 AACR annual meeting, Joe Beechem, PhD, senior vice president of research and development at NanoString, will provide an introduction to the company’s nCounter-based multi-omic assays. The presentation, “Simultaneous multi-omic measurement of gene fusions, mRNA, and proteins at 800-plex using single molecule optical barcodes,” is scheduled for Monday, April 20, at 10:00 AM.

For more information, visit NanoString Technologies.