As we gain a better understanding of the relationship between various diseases and genes, genetic diagnostic tools are expected to play a significant role in the early detection of genetic disorders and targeting therapies based on the specific gene disorder. With this goal in mind, Canon is carrying out related research and development.
U.S.-Based Research and Development of DNA Diagnostic Systems
The possibilities for genetic diagnosis are greatly expanding, providing support for determining the causes of diseases, targeting gene-specific therapies, and for testing and diagnosing future risk by analyzing genetic (DNA) information, the "blueprint" for life.
For example, genetic diagnosis is beginning to play a major role in medicine with applications including testing for inherited diseases, confirming the efficacy and side effects of drugs for treating cancer and other illnesses, and testing for the presence of viruses and other pathogens.
In the United States, where genetic diagnosis is widely employed, test results from specialized testing centers are already being used to help determine what approach to take in treating diseases.
Canon, through Canon U.S. Life Sciences, Inc., based in Maryland, is carrying out research and development for an innovative DNA diagnostic system.
Canon's Imaging Technology for Advancing Genetic Diagnosis
Canon's DNA diagnostic system utilizes precise glass-processing technology and semiconductor exposure equipment to form microchannels measuring approximately 20μm deep on glass. By creating section sites within these microchannels where DNA and test reagents can react, minute DNA samples are rapidly amplified. Furthermore, a high-sensitivity CMOS sensor, such as those used in Canon's EOS digital SLR cameras, enables the system to accurately measure fluorescence tagged in DNA to quickly and accurately detect genetic mutations. With the ability to automatically and continually examine mutations in several areas within DNA, the system makes it possible to quickly and conveniently carry out complex tests that would be difficult to conduct using conventional methods.
Furthermore, even when using the latest devices, genetic diagnosis takes several tens of minutes for simple diagnostic results, and from several hours to more than a day for more complex testing. Should Canon's DNA diagnostic system be put to practical use, however, it would likely enable complex tests to be carried out in a few hours. Furthermore, through efficient screening and advanced testing, it would be possible to dramatically lower testing costs and encourage from an early stage lifestyles that reduce the risk of onset of age-associated genetic disorders.
DNA Diagnostic System (Mock-up)
Contributing to Genetic Diagnosis through Global Collaboration
In the United States, where biotechnology research is widely carried out, Canon U.S. Life Sciences is collaborating with universities and other research institutes to consider product specifications suitable for clinical use while conducting research on more precise devices and test reagents. Meanwhile, Canon continues to conduct research and development in Japan with the aim of establishing mass production technologies to realize unique testing methods that capitalize on advanced production technologies. In this way, research and development for the DNA diagnostic system is being carried out through a collaborative effort by researchers in Japan and the United States.
As a first step toward practical application, a prototype of the system was installed at the University of Utah in November 2010 with plans for more systems to be installed elsewhere in the future. These will be followed by performance assessments and the joint development of applications with the aim of realizing early commercialization.
Canon intends to significantly contribute to improved healthcare through the development and production of a high-speed, high-precision DNA diagnostic system based on global collaboration at the research and development level.