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Genomic Solutions Plans Six Specialty Microarrays for 2001

NEW YORK, Jan 5 – Following its recent licensing deal with Affymetrix for low and medium density microarrays, Genomic Solutions is planning to expand its presence in this field through offering six different specialty GeneMap arrays in combination with its existing instrumentation, the company said Friday.

Currently, Genomic Solutions offers a GeneMap cancer microarray with 1152 double spotted genes. In the first quarter of 2001, the company will also begin to offer rat, mouse, and ratp450 genes, and will augment this portfolio with three more as-yet undisclosed arrays later in the year, according to Shannon Richey, vice president of Genomic Solutions’ Genomics Business Unit.

“We are in a very unique position,” said Richey. “We have over 100 hybridization stations out there. Those are all customers for preprinted arrays.”

Genomic Solutions has licensed a library of 30,000 human, 12,000 rat and 5,000 mouse genes from Research Genetics, and plans to draw upon this library for use in the arrays. The company plans to offer custom arrays as well as pre-spotted ones.

In entering into the microarray market, Genomic Solutions faces stiff competition. Its strategy for distinguishing itself, said Richey, is to provide both the tools and the microarrays, and to focus on specific low-density microarrays rather than the high-density products that Affymetrix offers.

“A researcher might use an Affymetrix chip to do broad-based screening, but when they have a small number of genes they are very interested in, the Affymetrix system is very difficult to use,” Richey said. “The bulk of work is going to be in low and medium density arrays.”

Still, in the low-density and custom field, players like Agilent have already made their mark, and others like Motorola BioChips are getting ready to leave the starting gate.

Genomic Solutions hopes to compete by offering specialty arrays and by synthesizing oligonucleotides “off-line” before putting them on the arrays, while Agilent synthesizes them in place.

The company believes this “off-line synthesis” offers more opportunities to do quality control than the other method, since the oligonucleotides can be measured before being put on the chip.

The company has not set the prices on the new group of arrays, said Richey. But they will be priced to compete with arrays in the one to two thousand dollar range.

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