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Affy to Use Ardais Tissue Samples; Gene Logic s Feathers Not Likely Ruffled

This article has been updated from an earlier version to include an Affy comment.


NEW YORK, Sept. 30 - Affymetrix today said it has tapped tissue bank company Ardais to help it study cancer-related disease outcomes and drug responses.


Under the terms of the collaboration, Affy will use its GeneChip platform and Ardais' BIGR library of human tissue samples and accompanying clinical data, particularly those tied to an unspecified cancer, to run gene-expression profiles.


The deal for Ardais, a two-year-old company based in Lexington, Mass., comes three months ahead of schedule. Martin Ferguson, Ardais' senior vice president for bioinformatics, told GenomeWeb in a phone interview in June that the company plans to link up with a number of genomics-based tool shops within six months.


Ferguson said Ardais will strike partnerships with a microarray company and an IT-infrastructure shop. The collaborations are intended to build and market a comprehensive suite of biodata, with Ardais' tissue repository at the center.


Ardais hopes to develop and license a nationwide repository of diseased human tissue samples--a market dominated by Gene Logic. With its own 10,000-sample tissue repository, for which it shelled out some $150 million to build, Gene Logic is already one of Affy's biggest customers and has built a strong reputation among researchers, hospitals, and big pharma.


Ferguson said Ardais, which "will soon become a competitor of Gene Logic," is in a better position. For one thing, he said, Ardais' tissue samples are more pure than Gene Logic's, and it has behind it firms and schools like CuraGen, Aventis, and Abgenix, and the University of Chicago, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Duke.


Ardais, which raised about $45 million since 1999, might have a leg up on Gene Logic in one other way, Ferguson added: Researchers who currently use the repository can double-dip "into the same exact specimen" if they wish to perform follow-up research.


Robert Burrows, a Gene Logic spokesman, declined to comment.


Asked to comment on the way the Ardais collaboration might affect Affy's relationship with Gene Logic, an Affy spokeswoman said in an e-mail message that the firm's deal with Gene Logic "is focused on toxicology and supporting drug discovery and development."


The Ardais collaboration "is aimed much more at moving the technology to clinical care, so it's probably better to think of it as an extension to the many peer-reviewed cancer papers that have been published using our GeneChip technology," she added.

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