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Fluidigm, Pierce, DBI, and Others to Offer New Tools

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Looking to meet the needs of the emerging market for antibody microarrays, at least four companies are launching or are planning to launch commercial antibody arrays or corresponding tools by the end of this quarter.

Though the new products vary in technology and applicability, the focus of those companies playing in the nascent space appears to be to offer researchers access what has been thought of as an exclusive technology, while enabling them to customize their own content.

First to hit the market this spring are Decision Biomarkers and Fluidigm, both of which are offering antibody arrays, but are approaching the market from different sides — both technologically and geographically.

According to Jeanne Cardona, the vice president of sales at Waltham, Mass.-based DBI, the company launched its 8-Plex Cytokine Max Biochip last week in order to meet the needs of drug researchers that the company claims will be able to test for eight standard biomarkers linked to several inflammatory disorders at the same time using the chip.

In addition, DBI announced the availability of its iMark Biochip for use in customizable assays as well as its Avantra Q400 Biomarker Workstation, which Cardona says “serves as a conduit to the pharmaceutical and biotech markets.” She says that the company’s debut chips were “protein microarrays” and that the Max biochip used antibody pairs to run a sandwich immunoassay. Cardona describes iMark as a chip where “customers can design proteins that they want to go on that chip.”

South San Francisco, Calif.-based Fluidigm will also launch a customizable antibody array platform, similar in intent to DBI’s iMark biochip, but not in technology.

Two other companies that are looking to meet the perceived need for antibody array technology are Pierce Biotechnology and the University Health Network’s Microarray Center in Toronto, which ships its arrays globally.

— Justin Petrone


Short Reads

Despite being forced to extend its data analysis and discussion period by two additional months, the FDA-sponsored Microarray Quality Control Consortium is on track to release all of its data from the project this summer and publish 10 papers summarizing the results in a special issue of Nature Biotechnology in September.


Almac Diagnostics has licensed Rosetta Biosoftware’s Resolver system to help it develop microarray-based approaches for diagnosing cancer and predicting therapeutic outcomes. The company will also use the technology “in the provision of comprehensive gene expression analysis services” to academic, biotech, and pharmaceutical customers.


Delivering on a promise to quadruple the density of its microarray platform by the second quarter of this year, Agilent will launch 244K chips in June — meeting the deadline it set when it first announced the density upgrade last November.


Innogenetics, a Belgian diagnostics company, announced plans to begin offering human leukocyte antigen typing on PamGene’s microarray platform later this year.


Researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the University of Athens, Greece, and George Washington University have developed a human mitochondria-focused cDNA microarray, or hMitChip, to study expression mitochondrial gene expression changes in the nuclear transcriptome.


PATENT WATCH

US Patent No. 7,022,157. Devices and methods for performing array based assays. Inventor: George Paul Tsai. Assignee: Agilent Technologies. Filed: April 4, 2006.

The patent claims devices and methods for performing an array assay, including a degassing zone that includes a gas permeable membrane. The patent also claims array assemblies that include a degassing zone positioned on an array substrate, as well as a method for contacting an array with a sample under conditions sufficient to perform an array assay, where the contacting step further includes degassing the sample.


US Patent No. 7,022,479. Sensitive, multiplexed diagnostic assays for protein analysis. Inventor: Richard Wagner. Assignee: Compound Therapeutics. Filed: April 4, 2006.

The patent describes methods for detecting multiple compounds in a sample, involving contacting the sample with a mixture of binding reagents on a solid support such as a microarray, allowing the protein portions of the binding reagents and the compounds to form complexes, capturing the binding reagent-compound complexes, amplifying the nucleic acid portions of the complex binding reagents, and detecting the unique identification tag of each of the amplified nucleic acids to detect the corresponding compounds in the sample.


Datapoint

~1,300

Average number of arrays printed per month at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, as estimated by microarray facility chief Cordelia Langford.

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