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Affy Rivals Say ParAllele Buy Will Help SNP Market

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Affymetrix took a logical step toward solidifying its position in the SNP-genotyping market by moving to acquire ParAllele Bioscience for $120 million in stock. ParAllele, a privately held South San Francisco, Calif.-based firm, began running its flagship genotyping assay on Affy’s Tag array platform two years ago and last year signed a co-marketing and distribution agreement with Affymetrix.

While the sizable purchase is Affy’s first acquisition since the chip vendor bought privately held bioinformatics company Neomorphic for $76 million in 2000, Affy’s primary competition in the genotyping sector shrugged off the potential impact the merger might have on the overall market, and other rivals see the move as a potential boon to the developing market.

Jay Flatley, CEO of Illumina, says that because of the long-standing partnership between Affymetrix and ParAllele, the acquisition is more of a formality from a market perspective than a strategic move. “We have already been competing with Affymetrix and ParAllele for a couple years. We don’t see how the merger changes anything,” he says.

However, Edvin Munk, a senior marketing manager at Sequenom, sees the acquisition as potentially generating more business for his company. “This will broaden the market, there will be more studies done, and what we [make our living] from is that people are following up on their microarray studies,” Munk says. Sequenom markets its mass spectrometry-based technology for follow-up genotyping studies on fewer SNPs.

In a conference call, Affy CEO and founder Stephen Fodor said that the potential applications of the combined companies’ technology are much broader than conventional DNA analysis, listing detecting chromosomal copy number, DNA methylation, and targeted RNA analysis as prospective places in Affy’s portfolio that could be strengthened by ParAllele’s technology.

— Justin Petrone

 

PATENT WATCH

 

US Patent 6,902,887. Methods for monitoring multiple gene expression. Inventors: Randy Berka, Michael Rey, Jeffrey Shuster, Sakari Kauppinen, Ib Groth Clausen, Peter Bjarke Olsen. Assignee: Novozymes Biotech, Novozymes A/S. Issued: June 7, 2005.

The invention covers methods for monitoring differential expression of multiple genes in one filamentous fungal cell relative to expression of the same genes in another or several other filamentous fungal cells using microarrays containing filamentous fungal expressed sequenced tags. The patent also relates to computer readable media and substrates containing such expressed sequenced tags for monitoring expression of a plurality of genes in filamentous fungal cells.

 

US Patent 6,902,900. Nucleic acid probes and methods to detect and/or quantify nucleic acid analytes. Inventors: Martin Davies, Ian Bruce, Andreas Wolter. Assignee: Proligo. Issued: June 7, 2005.

The invention covers methods for detecting and quantifying nucleic acid analytes. The nucleic acid probes generate a fluorescent signal upon hybridization to complementary nucleic acids based on the interaction of one of the attached dyes, which is either an intercalator or a DNA groove binder, with the formed double-stranded DNA. The methods can be applied to a variety of applications including homogeneous assays, real-time PCR monitoring, expression analysis on nucleic acid microarrays and other microarray applications such as genotyping.

 

Jivan Biologics, a 5-year-old array company based in Berkeley, Calif., is launching 14 separate arrays for the splice-variant array market for use on the Agilent platform.

 

Following a management buyout, MRC Geneservice, a provider of genomics reagents and services funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council, will on Aug. 1 re-emerge as a commercial company called Geneservice.

 

Japanese firm Matsushita Environmental & Air-Conditioning Engineering has developed a microarray to measure the effectiveness of bacteria at decomposing volatile organic compounds.

 

Affymetrix’s High-Throughput System, which has been available to early-access customers like Johnson & Johnson for nearly two years, will be made commercially available to the masses by the end of this year.

 

OGT Services, a unit of Oxford Gene Technology, and researchers at the Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genomics at the University of Oxford have developed a method for in situ spotting of double-stranded DNA microarrays.

 

Japanese instrument manufacturer Olympus signed an agreement with Cangen Biotechnologies, an American molecular diagnostics company, to develop and commercialize a microarray-based diagnostic test for early-stage lung cancer.

Datapoint

$200,000

Neurome has received a Phase I SBIR grant worth $200,000 to develop 3-D digital brain atlases for mouse models to display gene expression data from either in situ hybridization or DNA microarray analyses.

 

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