Agilent offers lifeline to Nimblegen users (updated)

THE PHASING-out of Nimblegen arrays and associated services by Roche need not leave researchers in the lurch, says Agilent, as they can ‘transition immediately’ to very similar Agilent products. Whether third-party products might also be used is unclear, although LabHomepage has made enquiries.

NimbleGen microarrays are used by many laboratories for research in fields including DNA methylation and gene expression, comparative genomic hybridisation, and chromatin immunoprecipitation-on-chip.

Key to many such research projects is the use of the NimbleGen MS 200 microarray scanner, which is of course set up for use with Nimblegen microarrays. The companies have confirmed that Agilent microarrays are compatible with this scanner, and recommend Nimblegen users to source new supplies from Agilent when needed.

Microplates are commonly manufactured to standard dimensions set out by the American National Standards Institute and the Society for Laboratory Automation – known as the ANSI/SLAS microplate standard. Labhomepage asked both Agilent and Roche Nimblegen whether there was any reason why other ANSI/SLAS-compatible microarrays should not be used, but so far we have only received a slightly cryptic response from Agilent stating that “Agilent arrays are best suited for Agilent scanners. Third-party scanners can work in special circumstances”, which doesn’t actually address the question of whether third party microplates can be used with the Nimblegen MS 200 microarray scanner.

The official line remains as stated in the initial press release issued this week, which says that the “similarities of the technologies and products from both companies provide an optimal transition path and the ability to run Agilent microarrays on the MS 200”.

Robert Schueren, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s genomics systems division, said: “Our field service personnel are working with researchers to help convert their NimbleGen designs, and provide enhanced service and support throughout the transition period and beyond. Agilent is also enabling customers to read their arrays on NimbleGen scanners, eliminating the need to invest in capital equipment.”

If any further clarification is received from the companies, this story will be updated.

22 November 2012: Roche has provided some further clarification on the compatibility issue, as follows:


“There is more than the overall dimensions of the glass which is important. The scanners are specifically set up to scan the actual arrays on the glass which vary from vendor to vendor… It is also dependent on how the scanner reads the array, which varies as well. It doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, however, it would not be plug and play by any means and would take additional development work by the end user to complete this and validate it. It would not necessarily invalidate any warranty, however, we do not support the use of any other array on our scanner and the customer would be at their own risk.”

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