Expired patents might lower prices for SuperScript® II RT Users

When the patents on the SuperScript® II Reverse Transcriptase enzyme expired, a number of companies introduced their own version of the popular RT kit for cDNA synthesis. The advantage of these enzymes over traditional Moloney Murine Leukemia Virus Reverse Transcriptase (M-MuLV) is that they have been engineered to have greatly reduced RNAse H activity. RNAse H itself can be a useful enzyme for molecular biology as it specifically degrades RNA in a RNA:DNA hybrid, but it is clear to see how RNAse activity in an RT reaction is not ideal. In general the companies releasing alternatives to SuperScript® II RT aligned their pricing to be a bit less expensive then the popular Life Technologies kit. The strong brand loyalty molecular biology customers have, as we described in a previous post, meant that customers would continue to pay a higher price for SuperScript® II Reverse Transcriptase.

Today, a look at the European pricing of the competing enzymes reveals the EpiCentre (an Illumina company) has started taking an aggressive low price approach towards capturing the market, particularly on these products:

Epicentre is well known among the RNA biology community for their innovative enzymes and kits, and their kits have received the highest level of validation due to their relationship with Illumina.


Figure 1. Use of EpiScript™ Reverse Transcriptase for first strand cDNA results in detection of similar transcript categories independent of input amount. cDNA was converted into libraries for Illumina® sequencing and reads were aligned using Tophat and annotated with Cufflinks and the percentage of each major category is visualized as a pie chart.


Figure 2. EpiScript™ Reverse Transcriptase performed equally or better than comparable reverse transcriptases from other vendors. First-strand synthesis reactions were assembled according to manufacturer’s specifications and various genes were evaluate by qPCR. Image courtesy of Matthew Kellinger, Illumina® Inc.

EpiScript 1ng

Figure 3. EpiScript™ Reverse Transcriptase produces similiar transcript coverage independent of transcript length. EpiScript™ was used to prime first strand cDNA from total RNA, and the cDNA was converted into Illumina®-compatible libraries and sequenced. The reads were aligned to transcripts based upon various length classes and read density plotted relative to the percent distance from the 5′ end of the transcripts.

EpiCentre’s complete line of RT enzymes and kits for cDNA synthesis is quite complete and includes a kit for nearly every need:

  1. MMLV High Performance Reverse Transcriptase (EpiCentre’s M-MuLV)
  2. EpiScript™ Reverse Transcriptase (EpiCentre’s alternative to SuperScript® II)
  3. MonsterScript RT Kit (EpiCentre’s answer to SuperScript® III)
  4. MessageBOOSTER™ cDNA Synthesis Kit (EpiCentre’s kit for single cells or low quantity RNA)

The big question is whether a 74% price difference is finally enough to make SuperScript® II customers switch.

What do you think?

Legal notes: SuperScript® is a registered trademark of Life Technologies. ProtoScript® is a registered trademark of New England Biolabs. RevertAid™ is a trademark of Thermo. EpiScript™ is a trademark of Epicentre (an Illumina company).