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Affy's True Materials Acquisition an Entry to Lower-Plex Markets

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Since Affymetrix acquired startup True Materials for $25 million this summer, the company has offered few details about the microparticle technology it gained.

True Materials, founded by Randy True and originally located in incubator space at QB3, focused on using digitally encoded microparticles to enhance nucleic acid and protein analysis. In a call with analysts, Affy CEO Steve Fodor said, "[The] technology offers advantages over bead-based approaches, because it is much more scalable and cost effective. … The tests will have shorter processing times, simplified workflows, and use a minimal amount of sample." The technology will be well-suited to "multiplexing tests ranging from several to over 10,000 markers," he added.

Kevin King, Affy's president, said in the same call that this level of multiplexing is "a huge market that we essentially have no share today in, and we think we can gain entry into it pretty rapidly."

According to two patent applications submitted in 2006 by True, who is now a vice president of R&D at Affy, the glass microparticles are smaller than 50 µm, and are printed with a microbarcode using a stepwise lithography process.

Tom Willis, an investor in True Materials, says he helped "matchmake" the startup with Affy. "I think it's a great match for the technology," he adds.

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