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Cambridge University Adopts Toray’s High Sensitivity DNA Microarray 3D-Gene®

- Boosting the pace of its overseas business expansion with the biomarker search tool -


Toray Industries, Inc. (headquarters: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; President: Akihiro Nikkaku; hereinafter referred to as “Toray”) today announced that it has launched the sales of its high sensitivity DNA microarray 3D-Gene®*1 as well as reagents and apparatus for analyzing microRNA*2 in blood using the microarray in Europe. These products are expected to have a powerful impact in biomarker *3 search useful in investigation and diagnosis of diseases. Initially, the analysis system has been adopted by the Cambridge Genomic Services*4, an experiment support facility of University of Cambridge, and it has begun contract-based analysis using 3D-Gene®. Cambridge Genomic Services, the central facility for genetic analysis within Cambridge University, decided to adopt Toray’s analysis system after comparing its performance with that of various genetic analysis technologies. With Cambridge University opting for this system, its popularity has been gaining pace across Europe, including the U.K., primarily in the biomarker search applications.

Toray has been developing revolutionary search methods for biomarkers in samples and it has so far succeeded in development of high sensitivity DNA microarray 3D-Gene® and a technology to efficiently extract microRNAs present in infinitesimal quantities in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) specimens and blood samples. In Japan, Toray has been already selling reagents, tools and apparatus related to these technologies and has also been carrying out contract-based analysis. The contract-based analysis business has been expanding rapidly ever since the development of the biomarker search method in 2010.

Toray, in order to spread such biomarker search method into the European market, jointly with Cambridge University, proved this search technology’s capability to identify microRNA more accurately and comprehensively compared to other technologies. Cambridge Genomic Services has been analyzing genome DNA and genes, and now with the adoption of Toray’s technology, it is planning to systematically organize consortiums related to biomarker search while launching microRNA analysis technology using FFPE and blood samples, which had been difficult till now.

Currently, in addition to Cambridge University, Oxford University in U.K., the US Naval Hospital and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas, in the U.S. as well as prominent research institutes in France and Sweden among others have started implementing contract-based analysis using this search method and these institutions have been succeeding in identifying good biomarkers from blood samples. By launching the biomarker search tool business overseas, Toray hopes to further boost the pace of practical application of biomarkers both within and outside Japan.

Toray Group has positioned the Life Science segment as one of the Intensively Developing and Expanding Businesses under its Project AP-G 2013. The Group aims to expand the investigation and diagnosis business, which is based on bio tools including the high sensitivity DNA microarray 3D-Gene®, as part of that initiative.

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*1 Highly sensitive DNA microarray 3D-Gene®
The 3D-Gene® is a highly sensitive DNA microarray developed by Toray. Usually DNA microarray has base sequences (probe) corresponding to several tens to ten thousands of DNA and RNA fragments densely arrayed on a substrate. It enables analysis of diverse conditions of DNA and RNA including determination of base sequences included in the target, analysis of genetic mutation, measurement of expression levels and copy number of a gene and analysis of methylated state by hybridized target nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA extracted from the sample.
3D-Gene® utilizes Toray’s creative advanced technologies, such as microscopic concavoconvex resin substrates and reaction acceleration by stirring the sample solution using beads and has a higher detection power (100 times the existing products), reproducibility and quantitative performance compared with existing DNA microarrays based on glass substrates (the website:
The development of the product was conducted partly using grant from the bio-IT integrated device development project by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

*2 MicroRNA
RNA denotes molecules that are required in translating the information of DNA into proteins and are sequences of several tens to hundreds of ribonucleic acid bases. However, recent studies have found that short RNAs with several tens of ribonucleic acid bases also play important roles in living organisms. Several types of short RNAs have been known and microRNA with 20 to 25 ribonucleic acid bases especially are attracting attention for its potential to become biomarker for identifying the causes of diseases and diagnosis, as it works to control messenger RNA’s functions and change the quantity of proteins being synthesized and is involved in initialization of cells essential for production of iPS cells.
In general RNA has been believed to be extremely fragile and exists protected in cells. However, it has come to be known that cell-divided phospholipid vesicles (exosome) with diameter of 10 to 100 nm are floating in blood plasma and serum and microRNAs exist wrapped in these exosomes. These microRNAs are extremely stable as they are protected by exosomes and can be detected from minute amount of blood.

*3 Biomarker
Molecules that indicate specific pathological conditions and states of organisms in the human body. They range from simplest molecules such as carbohydrate and lipid to complex ones including protein and gene products such as DNAs and RNAs. Measuring these molecules enables us to carry out examinations and diagnosis to know the conditions inside the body.

*4 Cambridge Genomic Services, University of Cambridge, U.K.
Founded more than 800 years ago, University of Cambridge is a collegiate research university consisting of 31 constituent colleges and more than 100 departments, which is the top ranking university of the world. It is the place where numerous significant discoveries including Newton’s law of universal gravitation were made and it continues to generate various advance technologies today with the largest number of Nobel laureates among universities around the world. Professor Nabeel Affara, who is the head of Cambridge Genomic Services, is the leading authority in the field of gene analysis.


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