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CombiMatrix Launches Deal with NASA

NEW YORK, Aug. 8 – CombiMatrix will see its microarrays launched into space in a deal with NASA Ames Research Center, the company announced on Wednesday.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has agreed to license and purchase CombiMatrix’s active biochips and technology to use in biological research in ground-based labs and aboard the International Space Station. 

The Snoqualmie, Wash.-based company would not reveal financial terms of the agreement beyond saying that the deal was for longer than one year and that the “revenue potential is significant to the company,” said CombiMatrix Vice President Bret Undem.

The data from genomic experiments performed on Earth will be uploaded to the Space Station, where astronauts will customize the biochips to run experiments in a microgravity environment, the company said. The experiments are part of NASA’s recently announced $27 million program to conduct research to understand how human DNA behaves in space.

“CombiMatrix's technology will enable NASA to conduct genome-wide functional analysis of any organism under any environmental condition, including in a micro-gravity environment," NASA Ames Research Center research scientist Viktor Stolc said in a statement. "NASA scientists also hope to use the CombiMatrix technology in the future to monitor astronaut health on the International Space Station.”

In late July, NASA selected another company, Caliper Technologies, to develop a microfluidics system for crystallizing proteins and other biological molecules in space. As GenomeWeb reported, that deal calls for Caliper to provide its LabChip microfluidics system to NASA researchers.

In early July, CombiMatrix entered a 15-year deal with Roche Diagnostics in which Roche will purchase, use, and resell CombiMatrix’s biochips. The worldwide, non-exclusive deal includes minimum payments by Roche to CombiMatrix during the first three years of the agreement, including royalties, payments for products, and R&D projects.    

CombiMatrix is majority-owned by Pasadena, Calif.-based life science’s company Acacia Research Corporation. 

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