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Olympus Takes Stake in Dutch Startup PamGene; Cos to Jointly Develop Microarrays

NEW YORK, March 14 - PamGene, a Dutch microarray startup, and Olympus Optical have agreed to jointly develop a platform for manufacturing and analyzing DNA microarrays, the companies said Wednesday.

As part of the alliance, Olympus has made a "significant" equity investment in PamGene, based in Den Bosch, the Netherlands. Exact financial details were not disclosed. 

Tokyo-based Olympus will be primarily responsible for developing cheap and small instruments to accompany PamGene's microfluidics-based microarray.

PamGene's technology attempts to speed gene expression and other microarray analyses by reducing the time required for biological molecules to reach the surface of the microarray. To do this, PamGene combines a porous aluminum oxide material with a method for flow-through incubation that the company claims dramatically decreases the time required to complete an experiment.

A spokeswoman for PamGene said that the company is waiting for patent approval before bringing its microarray technology to the market. Currently, PamGene has received patent approval in the European Union, but not in the US.

In December, PamGene raised $6.4 million in a private equity offering. Chief investors included Alta Partners, Life Science Partners, and GIMV Venture Capital. PamGene was founded in December 1999 as a spin-off of Organon Teknika, a business unit of Akzo Nobel.

Olympus has life science partnerships with the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and Evotec Biosystems, a German biotechnology company based in Hamburg.  
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