Housekeeper Genes for Normalizing Gene Expression Data

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the U.S. Critical to combating this problem is appropriate diagnosis. Various methods exist for using RT-PCR to evaluate gene expression levels as a marker for different tumor biology. As an internal controls for the amount of RNA in a reaction, housekeeper genes are used which show stable expression across experimental conditions. Finding biological significance in gene expression data can rely heavily on the performance of the house keeper genes yet there is a paucity of information in testing these genes for their suitability.

This technology describes a set of housekeeper genes that were identified to have low variation in expression in breast tumors. It also encompasses an algorithm for identifying good housekeeper genes to normalize data within a given tissue type and across different types of tissue samples. This technology shows that genomic microarray data can be translated into a qRT-PCR diagnostic assay that would improve the standard of care in breast cancer. Although this was developed with breast cancer in mind the algorithms would be useful in any type of cancer diagnosis.

Despite serious research efforts in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, it remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. There is therefore a concerted effort to commercialize lab tests that will help physicians diagnose and monitor cancer patients. More than 160 million cancer screening and diagnostic oncology procedures were performed in the U.S. in 1999, generating more than $1.6 billion in product sales. The total market for molecular diagnostics is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 16% and reach $5 billion worldwide by 2007.

Stage of Development
A PCT patent application and a new provisional application on recent data have been filed. This technology is part of an active and ongoing research program and includes a working prototype. The technology now requires partners for manufacturing and sales of the working product. It is available for licensing under either exclusive or non-exclusive terms.

Additional Info
*Szabo A, Perou CM, Karaca M, Perreard L, Quackenbush JF, Bernard PS. (2004) Statistical modeling for selecting housekeeper genes. Genome Biol. 5(8):R59.
*See also

Inventor(s): Charles Perou, Aniko Szabo, Philip Bernard, Laurent Perreard

Type of Offer: Licensing

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