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Packard Secures Key Patent for Microarray Effort

NEW YORK, Nov 14 – Packard BioScience said Tuesday that it had licensed an expansive gene expression-profiling patent from Xenometrix that covers use of microarray technology.

“We are hitting the commercialization phase of our biochip and this arrangement with Xenometrix is just a logical stepping stone in the progression of that technology hitting the market,” said Jason Alter, director of business development for Packard BioScience.  

Packard’s microarrays will be available in the second or third quarter of 2001, Alter said.

The license is non-exclusive and covers the collection of gene expression profiles utilizing all platforms, including biochips and high-density microarrays.

“They have a very broad patent that covers the collection of gene expression profiles,” said Alter. It covers “any platform you could think of,” he said.

Alter declined to disclose the terms of the licensing agreement. But similar deals between Xenometrix and other companies included up front fees and annual royalties.

Xenometrix’s patent entitled “Methods and Kits for Eukaryotic Gene Profiling” covers what is likely to be one of the primary application of chips—the testing of potential drugs for efficacy and safety.

Specifically, the patent gives Xenometrix the exclusive rights to the creation of expression profiles resulting from the exposure to chemical compounds.   This claim includes the creation of chips for this purpose, so companies in the microarray market have sought to license this patent.

Xenometrix’s licensee list includes Affymetrix, Motorola, Incyte, Rosetta, SmithKline Beecham, Genometrix, Genzyme, Gene Logic, and Aurora, as well as many others.

Packard has installed its robotic ink jet arrayers in over 20 companies and has licensed its proprietary ink jet chip printing technique to Motorola.

Packard will be using the same technology to produce its own chips. “Although we will be competing with Motorola,” said Alter, “since they licensed the technology from us it’s a win-win situation for Packard.”

In addition to its deal with Motorola, the company has partnerships with Aclara BioSciences for lab-on-a-chip markets and Oxford GlycoSciences for protein chips.

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