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Aventis Pharm and Qiagen Sign Deal for Non-PCR Microarray Platform

NEW YORK, June 28 - Qiagen and Aventis have signed a technology access agreement for Qiagen's new ZeptoGene Workstation microarray platform, Qiagen said Thursday. 

Under the agreement, Aventis will acquire limited access to the platform, which can be used for both nucleic acid and protein analysis.  

Qiagen developed the microarray platform in a multi-year collaboration with Swiss company Zeptosens, a spinoff of Novartis. The platform employs Zeptosens' Planar Wave Guide technology, a method for selectively detecting molecules bound to the surface of the microarray without the use of PCR, as well as Qiagen's nucleic acid separation purification and handling technologies. 

"The PWG chip technology has the potential to give us more precise information about the expression pattern of genes that are expressed at very low levels and only slightly differentially expressed genes," Jutta Reinhard-Rupp, Aventis Pharma's head of functional  genomics, said in a statement. "This advantage can significantly accelerate our target validation process and will support our understanding of diseases and their mechanisms."

The ZeptoGene platform offers more sensitive detection of expression than conventional microarrays, Qiagen said, as well as the capability to perform more in-depth analysis of data obtained from conventional microarrays using the ZeptoGene platform. It can also analyze the interrelationships between protein and gene samples in a single platform, Qiagen said. 

Qiagen has an undisclosed equity stake in Basel, Switzerland-based Zeptosens. Zeptosens and Venlo, Netherlands-based Qiagen formed an alliance in January 2000 to commercialize DNA microarray and other biochip technology. In addition to a substantial equity contribution, Qiagen also agreed to finance certain R&D activities and provide sales and marketing support, according to Zeptosens' website.  

Peer Schatz, Qiagen's chief financial officer, said that a deal similar to the Aventis arrangement would typically have a value between $42,000 and $86,000.
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