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Affy Begins Taking Orders on New Whole Human-Genome Chip

NEW YORK, Oct. 2 (GenomeWeb News) - Affymetrix early this morning said it has begun taking orders for its new whole human-genome microarray.


Affy said the new GeneChip Human Genome U133 Plus 2.0 array, which will ship in October, can analyze the expression level of nearly 50,000 RNA transcripts and variants with 22 different probes per transcript.

The new array combines the content of Affy's existing HG-U133 two-array set with nearly 10,000 new probe sets that represent around 6,500 new genes. The new data, which Affy said were verified against the latest version of the publicly available genome map, "provides researchers the most comprehensive and up-to-date genome-wide gene-expression analysis."


Affy said in a statement that the probes of the HG-U133 Plus 2.0 and its two-chip predecessor were designed the same way. The new array uses 22 independent measures to detect the hybridization of each transcript on the array - 1.3 million data points in all.


The formal call for orders makes Affy the winner in a much-touted race among four of the largest genomics-tool companies angling to launch a whole human-genome array, or a service that enables researchers to use an array with what is believed to be the entire human genome. For example, Agilent has called analysts and journalists to its in Wilmington, Del., factory to talk about it own whole-genome product chip.


Meantime, Nimblegen Systems, of Madison, Wis., already offers the whole human genome on an array it sells as a service, and Applied Biosystems said it will launch by the end of the year a chip and a platform to read it. Also, GenomeWeb yesterday learned that Amersham will introduce its own whole human-genome chips early next year.


Affy's new chip is a technological milestone that will eventually lower the costs to researchers, industry insiders agree. Yet questions remain unanswered about the the reproducibility and accuracy of microarrays in general -- issues that will need to be addressed before the microarray industry can make a successful entry into the $20 billion molecular-diagnostics market.

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