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Microarrayer Genetix Uses Lab Auto Show to Launch New Product Line -- and New Business -- in Cell Culture

SAN JOSE, Calif., Feb. 3 (GenomeWeb News) - Genetix, long a genomics tools provider, used the Lab Automation conference here this week to launch a new instrument and a new line of business.


The New Milton, UK-based company, with an installed base of hundreds of instruments, many of them used for the so-called "homebrew" sector of researchers designing and arraying their own microarrays, this week launched the ClonePix FL, an instrument positioned for drug-discovery applications. The launch propels the company into antibody product development and cell line identification and development.


"This is a growing area ... where drug-discovery work is going," George Hutchinson, marketing manager for the company's picking and placing business unit, told GenomeWeb News. "We are against manual techniques, and have invested a  lot of time and R&D and taken an active IP postion."


Hutchinson said that the unit goes beyond the typical robotic automation that addresses space through programs that move machinery through X,Y, and Z axes.


"This looks at a [microtiter] plate and can decide on a course of action," he said.


The instrument debuted a year ago, but this application, which packages robotics, analysis applications, and a combination of fluorescence and white-light imaging, is new, and one that is just moving from R&D to full commercialization with a target date for availability set for the third quarter. It is expected to cost between $300,000 and $400,000 a unit.


Many companies in the microarray tools sector outside of the big A's -- the industrial-scale chip producers Affymetrix and Agilent -- are coming to an inflection point in terms of revenues as the microarray sector matures. When this happens, the market experiences a slowdown of growth of sales of new instruments.


For Genetix, the product also means a greater effort to more actively engage customers in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors -- essentially a new clientele and a new application in cell culture.


At Lab Automation, the 10 Genetix representatives in attendance were clad in eye-catching orange or lime green polo shirts, with "Cell Culture Portfolio" embroidered across the front of them to announce the new product line.


But the company did more than just take a 'look-at-me' and 'buy-me' approach to this launch, said Hutchinson.


"Selling to pharma is a different style of marketing," he said. The company invited a number of companies for presentations at the three-day show that wraps up today. "We made the show a focal point of the sales process," he said.


He said the company had received a half dozen commitments from "early-adopter" pharma/biotech customers to use the product before it hits the market.

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