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QIAGEN Introduces Comprehensive Solution for Epigenetics

Expanded EpiTect portfolio targets growing demand for standardized sample and assay technologies to investigate processes regulating gene function

(PresseBox) (Venlo, The Netherlands, ) QIAGEN (NASDAQ: QGEN; Frankfurt, Prime Standard: QIA) today announced a significant expansion of its EpiTect product portfolio for epigenetics, one of the most dynamic areas in life sciences. With the five new products, QIAGEN now offers standardized solutions covering all steps of epigenetic research processes in molecular diagnostics, pharma and life sciences. By removing existing bottlenecks in epigenetic research, the new products are expected to advance progress in the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics for cancer and other diseases.

Epigenetics focuses on the study of various phenomena which are linked to the genome but do not result from genetic variability. One of the major mechanisms which has been identified to regulate gene expression is a chemical modification of the DNA called DNA methylation, acting like an "on" and "off" switch for genes. As DNA methylation is believed to play a major role in many diseases, in particular cancers, epigenetic research holds great promise for the development of novel biomarkers in diagnostics and for therapeutics. Scientific progress has been hindered by a lack of standardized methods and incompatibilities between technologies employed. QIAGEN is now removing these barriers with the expansion of its EpiTect product line, providing its customers in molecular diagnostics, pharma and life sciences with complete pre-analytical and analytical workflow solutions which guarantee reproducible results even from scarce tissue samples and highest quality of downstream applications.

Epigenetic research has recently gained significant momentum leading to many stunning discoveries. Discoveries show that various cell types have unique patterns of DNA methylation, thus providing an explanation for the transformation of stem cells to various tissue types in the human body. In addition, research demonstrates that methylation patterns can change over time as a reaction to environmental conditions and are also hereditary. That way, the behaviour of an individual - e.g. his nutrition uptake - can have an influence on future generations.

The overall market for epigenetic applications is currently estimated to grow at an annual compound growth rate of 60 percent and to exceed US$ 4 Billion by 2012. Thereby, research primarily aims to deepen our understanding of the highly sophisticated epigenetic regulation mechanism and to develop new therapeutics targeting and diagnostics incorporating DNA methylation patterns as highly sensitive and specific biomarkers.

"Epigenetics is an extremely dynamic area of research and an important market for QIAGEN," said Gerald Schock, Global Product Manager WGA Epigenetics at QIAGEN. "Our expanded portfolio brings a new level of efficiency, convenience and reliability to epigenetic research and will help to further advance and disseminate epigenetic applications by removing key bottlenecks previously hindering the corresponding research work."

At an early stage, QIAGEN recognized the growing market demand for specific, standardized sample and assay technologies for epigenetic research and launched its first product in 2006, establishing a new standard for sample processing for DNA methylation analysis. The expanded product offering includes a novel technology representatively amplifying specifically treated DNA needed for the methylation analysis, allowing researchers to perform multiple tests from limited sample material. Moreover, these products include a real-time PCR based test-kit for the quantitative analysis of methylated DNA, assays for differentiation of methylated DNA in genes related to cancer and a novel PCR based technology which significantly improves accuracy of qualitative analysis of methylated DNA. Finally, the portfolio includes control DNAs used to verify methylation analysis, thus increasing standardization in assay setups.