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Updated 8:45 AM March 24, 2009
 

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Agilent, U partner on research to attack prostate cancer using systems biology

Agilent Technologies Inc. March 19 announced its support of prostate cancer research by the university's Center for Translational Pathology through a grant of instruments and funding. The goal is to accelerate research to defeat the disease using a multidisciplinary systems biology approach.

"We see this as an opportunity to partner with a truly advanced lab that is using multiple scientific disciplines to look at very important clinical problems," says Gustavo Salem, Agilent vice president and general manager, Biological Systems Division. "This relationship will give us a better understanding of how to apply our technologies in a clinical research setting and will enable the University of Michigan to accelerate its scientific research."

Agilent is contributing a 1200 Series liquid chromatography (LC) system to be used to separate metabolites from human plasma, and a 1200 Series Rapid Resolution LC coupled to a 6530 Accurate Mass quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer (Q-TOF MS) for the identification of those metabolites.

"We will focus our laboratory research on a systems-biological approach to try to understand the disease at the biochemical and genetic levels simultaneously," explains Christopher Beecher, professor of pathology at the Medical School. "We expect to be able to make a number of discoveries in prostate cancer and to develop new techniques that will be useful universally."

The research team, led by the director of the MCTP, Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan, has already revealed metabolomic profiles of prostate cancer progression by looking at 1,126 metabolites across 262 samples of tissue, blood or urine. The lab currently is trying to unlock the secrets of how prostate tumors gain the ability to spread. The MCTP houses cutting-edge facilities for genomic, proteomic and metabolomic analyses, the three main disciplines used in systems biology.

The collaboration between MCTP and Agilent is a result of Agilent's University Relations Program, which facilitates collaborations with universities around the world. The program sponsors research that advances the science of measurement and provides instructional materials to universities.

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