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Agilent Acquires Computational Biology in Bid to Expand Microarray Platform

NEW YORK, Jan. 5 (GenomeWeb News) - Agilent Technologies acquired Computational Biology for an undisclosed sum, and plans to expand its microarray platform based on intellectual property owned by the company, Agilent said today.


The Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm said the acquisition gives it exclusive access to patents covering ChIP-on-Chip technology, which uses chromatin immuno-precipitation to discover how regulatory proteins interact with the genome of living cells. According to Agilent, the ChIP-on-chip technology will enable researchers to discover how regulatory proteins control gene activity, taking its microarray technology a step beyond measuring gene expression.


"This acquisition is strategically important to the expansion of Agilent's microarray platform into new array-based genomics applications," said Fran DiNuzzo, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Integrated Biology Solutions business.


Agilent said that applications for the technology in disease research, drug discovery, and drug development will become roughly 10 percent, or at least $100 million, of the microarray market by 2007.


Agilent also said that within six months it would open a collaborative research center in Cambridge, Mass., where Computational Biology is located. The location of the research center, which will include an Agilent demonstration center for genomics, proteomics, and informatics, will enable close collaboration with Computational Biology's founders and researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.


Privately held Computational Biology was co-founded by Richard Young and David Gifford of MIT, and biotech executive Heidi Wyle. Gifford and Young, who is a professor at the Whitehead Institute and primary inventor of the ChIP-on-chip technique, will remain in their academic positions while consulting for Agilent on further development of ChIP-on-chip for commercial applications.


The acquisition of Computational Biology follows the November launch of the firm's fully automated lab-on-a-chip system, an advanced version of the firm's earlier-generation 2100 bioanalyzer, and the purchase of bioinformatics firm Silicon Genetics in August.

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