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CombiMatrix Launches Microarray Deal with NASA

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

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Formalizing our relationship with NASA reflects CombiMatrix's strategy of converting early access customers into long-term commercial partners," Gerald Knudson, CEO of CombiMatrix, said in a statement.

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.

It was not immediately clear when the CombiMatrix collaboration will begin.

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

In early July, CombiMatrix entered into a 15-year deal with Roche Diagnostics where 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-based life science’s company Acacia Research Corporation.

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