Pushing into the gene-expression space and with an eye on future diagnostic applications, PerkinElmer this week launched two platforms at the American Society of Human Genetics conference in New Orleans.
The new multiplexing platforms — the CS Autoplex Gene Expression and the Spectral Genomics Array CGH Platform — represent PerkinElmer’s efforts to combine internally developed products with acquired technologies and offer researchers fully integrated systems. In the case of these new products, PerkinElmer has leveraged its partnership with Luminex and its acquisition of Spectral Genomics five months ago to target new markets for the firm.
The CS Autoplex platform includes a custom gene-expression panel kit, labeling kit, and analysis software. The kits, which are based on Luminex’s xMAP technology, are used for high-throughput biomarker validation.
Richard Eglen, vice president and general manager of discovery and research reagents for PerkinElmer’s Life and Analytical Sciences unit, told BioCommerce Week that although researchers could use the CS Autoplex platform to make homebrew kits, “we anticipate most of them will be using the kits we provide to go after specific genes that they’re interested in. We’ll probably develop a custom business in this area as well.”
PerkinElmer is primarily known in the array space for its protein technologies and already sells a platform for protein biomarker discovery called BioXpression, which was launched last year. The firm also has focused on developing technologies for identifying and validating biomarkers for genetic diseases based on Luminex’s bead-based technology.
The CS Autoplex adds to PerkinElmer’s ProScanArray Express offering for protein microarray analysis. In addition to the Autoplex platform, PerkinElmer is now selling the CS Autoplex Workstation, which includes technologies for assay set-up, sample processing, and analysis.
PerkinElmer also is jumping into the nascent CGH array market with the Spectral Genomics CGH Platform, which combines products from its acquisition of Spectral Genomics earlier this year with PerkinElmer’s instrumentation and analysis software as well as new PerkinElmer-developed features. It consists of the SpectralChip 2600 array, a high-density bacterial artificial chromosome-based chip for genome profiling that Spectral sold before it was acquired by PerkinElmer earlier this year, and PerkinElmer’s ScanArray scanner, labeling reagents, and newly developed SpectralWare Analysis Software.
PerkinElmer intends to internally develop new products based on the system for use in molecular karyotyping and genome profiling, according to Eglen. But it also is offering the Constitutional Chip 3.0 array for use in investigational cytogenetics. The product is an upgrade of the chip originally developed at Spectral and it provides coverage of 42 disorders and 41 subtelomeric regions.
Eglen said that the new system showcases PerkinElmer’s growing interest in developing products internally rather than adding to its portfolio through acquisitions. “PE is making a commitment in terms of mutual R&D as well as M&A activity in the genomics area,” he told BioCommerce Week sister publication BioArray News at the ASHG conference this week.
Other products in the R&D pipeline include a higher-density SpectralChip for genome profiling that expands beyond the current array’s 2,600 BACs, Eglen said.
A Future in Diagnostics?
PerkinElmer plans to leverage its hefty market share in the genetic and neonatal screening markets to eventually introduce the CGH platform to the diagnostics market, Eglen told BioCommerce Week. “Initially, the product range will be developed for the research market, and obviously we’re going after researchers in the cancer area or researchers that have archival tissue collections, for example,” he said. “But we envision this being deployed further down the line into the diagnostic market.”
Eglen declined to provide details of PerkinElmer’s pursuit of US Food and Drug Administration clearance for any of its array products.
Although researchers could use the CS Autoplex platform to make homebrew kits, PerkinElmer “anticipate[s] most of them will be using the kits … to go after specific genes that they’re interested in. We’ll probably develop a custom business in this area as well.”
PerkinElmer has committed to using BACs on its arrays, though some competitors, like Agilent Technologies and Oxford Gene Technology, offer oligonucleotide-based CGH arrays. “We’re using BACs as part of our solution, as opposed to oligos, and that enables us to give better signal-to-background ratios in terms of detection, which means that we can detect low-level frequency changes, and we get a very high resolution chip,” Eglen said. “So our pipeline at the moment will be centered around BACs.”
To support internal development, Eglen said that Spectral Genomics’ R&D team, once based in Houston, recently transferred to PerkinElmer’s headquarters in Boston. Chip manufacturing has been relocated to PerkinElmer’s office in Turku, Finland.
Only the Spectral brand name has been retained for use by the company, and the Texas office will officially close in March.
Eglen said that the company was attracted to the nascent market for off-the-shelf CGH products — which includes a handful of rivals such as Abbott Molecular and Agilent Technologies — due to the promise of a “sizeable market in genomics” that can provide PerkinElmer with “opportunities for reagent growth.”
Of all rival platforms, PerkinElmer’s closest competitor will be Abbott’s research-oriented GenoSensor system, which also employs BACs instead of oligos. Like PerkinElmer, Abbott also has expressed an interest in targeting the clinical market. In May, the firm said it was developing a version of GenoSensor, called GeneTrait, specifically for the clinical market.
Abbott said at the time that it hopes to receive FDA clearance for the GeneTrait system by the first half of 2007.
— Justin Petrone contributed to this article.