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Aclara Tells Suits: Revenues Around the Corner for New Assay

NEW YORK, Oct. 9-Aclara hopes to garner its first paying customers for its eTag capillary electrophoresis-based assays early next year, company representatives said at today's UBS Warburg global life sciences conference here today.

 

Earlier this year, the company laid off 50 staff, putting its microfluidics research on the back burner to focus on developing and commercializing its eTag technology for multiplexed gene function and protein analysis.

 

The assay is designed to allow multiplex analysis on a scale somewhere in between Applied Biosystems' TaqMan reagent system and the higher number of data points generated through a chip system.

 

For assays probing five to 10 genes at a time, it will be priced "somewhere just south of TaqMan," Aclara president and CEO Joseph Limber told GenomeWeb following a sparsely attended presentation at the conference. Higher-volume assays will result in "dramatic reductions in cost," in part because the method eliminates sample prep costs.

 

Eight pharma and biotech companies are currently performing validation studies of the technology, which is designed to allow gene expression profiling, toxicogenomics studies, proteomic target validation and signal trasduction assays.

 

The company then plans a staged launch of the product, beginning with discovery partnerships and an expert access launch focusing on toxicogenomics and standard protein applications, among other uses.

 

Aclara hopes to then strike deals ranging from a $125,000 site license for individual lab use to a $1 million "enterprise" arrangement for a large company with 10 or more labs using the technology.

 

The company hopes that several of their early partners will sign up for this access program in the next six to 12 months, and that during 2003, it will start receiving revenues on the product.

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