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Prolinx Taps Kaiser to Be CTO as Stolowitz Resigns; Firm on Track to Develop Own Device Line

NEW YORK, Aug. 3 – Prolinx has made Robert Kaiser chief technology officer, Prolinx announced on Friday. He replaces Mark Stolowitz, who left the company for personal reasons and who will become vice president of biochip technologies at Lumicyte.  

The management change comes as 6-year-old Prolinx attempts to transform itself from being a provider of chemical reagents to a company that manufactures proteomics research systems, including tools for building protein microarrays and studying protein interactions.

Until now, Bothell, Wash.-based Prolinx has focused on developing chemistry technologies for applications such as immobilizing biological molecules on surfaces and cleaning up nucleic acid reactions. The company has a number of license agreements with other firms, including Applied Biosystems, Nanogen, and Invitrogen, to distribute its technology and use its chemical reagents.

But Kaiser said that business model didn’t allow Prolinx to do much of its own sales and marketing—aside from demonstrations at trade shows and via its website—and that partnering with others often increased the time required for a product to reach the market.

“Sales have been acceptable,” Kaiser told GenomeWeb . “We’ve actually gotten very good response to the products we have out there with the limited ability we’ve had to market them. Basically the problem to this point has been operating on a rather thin budget and not being able to expand our sales and marketing efforts adequately,” he said.

Kaiser hopes that will change now that the company is focusing more on developing its own product line of instruments and reagent kits. To that end, the firm earned $16.8 million in a private funding round two weeks ago earmarked for product development and expanding its sales and marketing force, Kaiser said.

By the end of the fourth quarter, Prolinx plans to release a reagent system, based on the company’s Versalinx technology for immobilizing biological molecules to surfaces, that will allow researchers to build protein microarrays eight at a time using whatever spotting and detection systems are available.

This “open platform” system would provide researchers with glass microscope slides coated with a three-dimensional chemistry surface “that is very compatible with proteins so there’s virtually no non-specific binding,” Kaiser said.

The company is also collaborating with Texas Instruments to develop an instrument based on Versalinx chemistry for studying protein interactions using Surface Plasmon Resonance. Kaiser said Prolinx expects to have this instrument on the market by the end of the first quarter 2002.

The most recent round of funding is the company’s largest so far, Kaiser said, and brings to $38 million Prolinx’ total take from outside financing. Investors may have felt more generous, he added, because of the company’s new direction.

“I think it was viewed as our responding to a new market opportunity in a rapid way,” he said.

“What we are doing now is moving from simply being a chemistry company providing chemicals, reagents, kits, and moving on into developing our own instruments that incorporate our chemistries, and expanding them so they’re more useful as total systems for doing analysis,” Kaiser added.  

Karin Hughes, the former director for applications development and manufacturing will replace Kaiser in his former role as vice president for research and development.

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