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CombiMatrix Joins Growing miRNA Array Market

CombiMatrix has entered the increasingly competitive market for commercial microRNA microarrays by launching a portfolio of miRNA arrays and quickly setting itself up to compete against other miRNA players like Invitrogen, Exiqon, and Ambion.

The company now sells species-specific miRNAs for human, mouse, rat,

C. elegans, Drosophila, Arabidopsis, and maize, as well as a compendium array that includes miRNAs from all these different species on one array. All catalog miRNA arrays are priced at $99, CombiMatrix says.

CombiMatrix’s approach is in contrast to what most of its miRNA array competitors have been doing. While Invitrogen, Exiqon, and Ambion all sell compendium miRNA arrays, CombiMatrix is betting that a more diverse product line will equal stronger sales.

For example, Invitrogen’s NCode Multi-Species miRNA Array Platform, launched last month, offers human, mouse, rat,

Drosophila, C. elegans, and zebrafish, but only on the same array, priced at $150 per array. Peter Jozsi, the company’s manager of gene regulation, says that customers have the opportunity to obtain the content in separate mammalian and non-mammalian probe sets if they want to print arrays themselves.

But according to Andy McShea, CombiMatrix’s vice president of biology and chemistry, its competitors may be releasing compendium arrays because they are easier to make than species-specific arrays, not because they are more useful.

“It’s very nice that people have all of these different microRNAs on an array, but for the most part, people work on one organism, not on eight at once,” McShea says. “We have made a compendium one [and] the reason we’ve done that is because there are, at least in the public literature right now, actually a small number of characterized microRNAs.”

— Justin Petrone


US Patent No. 6,988,040. System, method, and computer software for genotyping analysis and identification of allelic imbalance. Inventors: Rui Mei, Teresa Webster. Assignee: Affymetrix. Issued: January 17, 2006.

The patent claims methods, systems, and computer software products for determining the genotype of a sample using a plurality of probes. In one version of the invention, a tentative genotype call is made based upon the relative allele signals. Pattern recognition is then used to validate the tentative call, according to the patent.

US Patent 6,993,173. Methods for estimating probe cell locations in high-density synthetic DNA microarrays. Inventors: Harry Zuzan, Valen Johnson. Assignee: Duke University. Issued: January 31, 2006.

This patent covers methods, systems, and computer program products for estimating the location of a probe cell in an image of a high-density microarray DNA chip and uses those to interrogate a plurality of different closely spaced estimated locations to identify the most likely estimated location of the probe cell in the image, according to the abstract. The invention can also provide better hybridization summaries by improving the estimation of the probe cell locations.

CombiMatrix has been awarded $2.4 million from the US Department of Defense to further develop microarrays for detecting biological and chemical threat agents. The DOD also awarded Invitrogen Federal Systems $970,000 to develop protein microarrays for biothreat agents.

Agilent Technologies has launched the industry’s first dual-mode, one-color/two-color microarray platform.

Nanogen has signed a manufacturing and distribution agreement with Princeton Biomeditech to develop a point-of-care in vitro diagnostic assay that detects NT-proBNP.

Lumera and Harvard Medical School will develop a silicon chip substrate that combines Lumera’s NanoCapture technology with HMS’s NAPPA (nucleic acid programmable protein array) technology to create high-density protein arrays with 10,000 spots.

In January, the City of Hope MicroArray Core Facility became 5AM Solution’s first open source client to use Microarray Enterprise Manager.

BioTrove and RxGen PrimaTox are teaming up to provide gene expression and SNP assays for primates and humans. RxP will provide its tox-optimum assays exclusively to BioTrove, which will manufacture the assays to RxP’s specifications, using its OpenArray platform.

Duke University and Affymetrix have joined forces in a five-year translational research collaboration to analyze genomic information across large patient samples.


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