Paper Finds Microdroplet PCR Enrichment Is Ideal Targeted Sequencing Solution For Large-Scale Population Studies

November 3, 2009

LEXINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS, U.S.A. - November 2, 2009 - Data generated using microdroplet PCR technology as an enrichment method is particularly well suited for performing sequence-based association studies, according to a paper published today by researchers at the Scripps Translational Science Institute, the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and RainDance Technologies, Inc.   T

he study, led by Kelly A. Frazer, Ph.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Chief, Division of Genome Information Sciences, UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics, evaluated microdroplet PCR's advantages in performing sequence enrichment for targeted sequencing over the gold-standard traditional PCR approach.

"These benefits translated into a much higher efficiency of sequencing and a much more cost-effective way to do population studies," Frazer said, in commenting about the paper.  

Entitled "Microdroplet-based PCR Enrichment for Large-Scale Targeted Sequencing," the paper was published today on Nature Biotechnology's Web site at Microdroplet-based PCR enrichment for large-scale targeted sequencing : Abstract : Nature Biotechnology ( and will appear in the November issue of the magazine.  

"I believe this new technology will be used to study the basic underpinnings of diseases and to understand their root causes," said Eric J. Topol, M.D., Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and a co-author. "For instance, we're now using it to understand the causes of anorexia nervosa. We also can use the technology to comprehend a disease's response to a therapy or to determine a drug's side effects. We even can employ it to study the healthy aging process. These are all applications for microdroplet PCR that will help us understand the vital aspects of human health and disease," said Dr. Topol, in commenting on the paper.  

The paper said that to efficiently perform population-based sequencing studies using next-generation sequencing platforms, it is important to be able to simultaneously examine large numbers of targeted sequences. "These results indicate that even when simultaneously amplifying 3,976 targeted sequences, microdroplet PCR generates a high ratio of target sequence to background sequence," the authors said. The study concluded that data quality is independent of the number of amplicons. A path to scale to 20,000 amplicons while maintaining high performance was also demonstrated.  

The paper's authors said the microdroplet PCR process proved to be extremely efficient, with more than 99.6% of all amplicons being successful and with highly reproducible amplification of targeted sequences between samples. The data also showed that equivalently accurate SNP calling can be performed using microdroplet PCR whether the DNA is unamplified or whole-genome amplified from nanogram quantities. The allelic bias error rate of approximately 0.1% resulted in few known variants to be incorrectly called, further attesting to the robustness of the process.  

"We were impressed with how well the technology worked," said Dr. Frazer. "Compared to other types of sequence enrichment, we were able to generate greater uniform coverage of targeted sequences. In addition, the problems we typically encounter with standard PCR, such as difficult primer design and high allelic bias, were not observed with the microdroplet-based PCR workflow."  

"Efficient targeted sequencing will be critical as researchers study genetic variation in large populations to determine the causes of cancer and other complex diseases," said Christopher McNary, President and Chief Executive Officer, RainDance Technologies. "This study confirms that our innovative RDT 1000 microdroplet-based platform is able to detect substantially higher numbers of variants in the targeted sequences than either solution-based hybridization or molecular inversion probes. This platform provides scientists with an exciting and highly effective new technology that accelerates research into the causes of these devastating diseases," said McNary.   

To view the paper, visit Microdroplet-based PCR enrichment for large-scale targeted sequencing : Abstract : Nature Biotechnology DOI:10.1038/nbt.1583. ( or see the November 2009 issue of Nature Biotechnology: "Microdroplet-based PCR Enrichment for Large-Scale Targeted Sequencing." Authors: Ryan Tewhey(1,2), Jason Warner(3), Masakazu Nakano(1,4), Brian Libby(3), Martina Medkova(3), Patricia David(3), Steve Kotsopoulos(3), Michael Samuels(3), J. Brian Hutchinson(3), Jonathan W. Larson(3), Eric J. Topol(1), Michael P. Weiner(3), Olivier Harismendy(1,4), Jeff Olson(3), Darren R. Link(3), and Kelly A. Frazer(1,4).  

About RainDance Technologies, Inc.

RainDance Technologies, Inc., is a provider of innovative microdroplet-based solutions for single-cell analyses that will accelerate human health and disease research. The speed and simplicity of the company's exciting new technology platform enable researchers to design experiments in ways that were previously unaffordable or unimaginable. The company's RainStormTM technology produces picoliter-volume droplets at a rate of 10 million per hour. Each droplet is the functional equivalent of an individual test tube and can contain a single molecule, reaction, or cell. This versatile technology can adapt proven assays for high-speed workflows with minimized process-induced bias or error.   RainDance's initial application focuses on the targeted sequencing of the human genome - one of the fastest-growing segments of the $1 billion DNA sequencing market. This application enables the high-resolution analysis of genetic variation between individuals and populations at a level unmatched by current methodology.   For more information, please visit  

RainStorm is a trademark of RainDance Technologies, Inc.  

Contact RainDance Technologies

    (1) Scripps Genomic Medicine, Scripps Translational Science Institute, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, U.S.A. (2) Division of Biological Sciences, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California, U.S.A. (3) RainDance Technologies, Lexington, Massachusetts, U.S.A. (4) Present address: Moores UCSD Cancer Center, La Jolla, California, U.S.A.



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