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Biosite and Large Scale Biology to Jointly Develop Protein Chips

NEW YORK, Jan 30 – Large Scale Biology and Biosite Diagnostics have combined efforts to develop protein chips, the companies announced Tuesday.

LSBC will pay Biosite an undisclosed sum to develop antibodies for proteins contained in LSBC’s Human Protein Index and Molecular Anatomy and Pathology database, with the two companies sharing in the profits from any diagnostic or protein chip product.

Over the three year deal, the two companies hope to identify antibodies for 2,000 to 5,000 proteins, said Kim Blickenstaff, president and CEO of Biosite.

To achieve this goal, Biosite will invest significantly in automating its laboratory platform for generating antibodies, said Gunars Valkirs, vice president for research and development at Biosite. While Biosite currently screens about 400 protein targets a year, Valkirs said the company hopes to push that number to 4,000 by the year’s end.

LSBC and Biosite are hoping to develop protein chip technology analogous to Affymetrix’s DNA chips, said Leigh Anderson, president and CEO of Large Scale Proteomics, a subsidiary of LSBC.

“Our objective is to specifically take a large series of markers, and enable antibody-based products to measure them, said Anderson.

But unlike DNA chips, which use recombination to attach strands of DNA to the chip, forming a relatively strong bond, protein chips employ the weaker and more space-consuming method of relying on antibody-protein interactions to bind proteins to a chip.

As a result, said Valkirs, protein chips probably will not reach the same densities as DNA chips, which currently can hold on the order of 60,000 to 100,000 strands of DNA.

Meanwhile, this team faces a tough array of competitors who have already entered the chip market. Currently, Ciphergen and Zyomyx manufacture protein chips. Packard, Motorola, Phylos, HTS Biosystems and Protein Sciences, and an Oxford Glycosciences-Cambridge Antibody Technology partnership have also announced they would be developing protein chips or similar microarrays.