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Start-Up GenoSpectra Defines Its Fiber Optics-Based Array Technology

NEW YORK, Feb. 26 - Microarray start-up GenoSpectra on Tuesday defined its plan to apply fiber optics technology to a wide range of array-based tools it intends to sell to the pharmaceutical and biotech markets.

The firm, founded in April 2000, said it will employ fiber optic strands as mechanisms to help deposit oligonucleotides onto microarray slides and develop ADMET microarrays, biomarker microarrays, extreme high-throughput screening chips, and extreme high-throughput desktop-screening stations.

GenoSpectra, which last December pocketed $20 million in a second financing round with the help of Affymetrix co-founder Alejandro Zaffaroni, has 35 employees and recently opened a 41,000-square-feet R&D and manufacturing facility in Fremont.

From this base, the company has developed technology that uses fiber optic strands as mechanisms to deposit oligos onto microarray slides in a parallel, precise, high-throughput manner, according to Victor Shi, vice president of corporate development.

"The fiber optic in our platform is used to manufacture DNA microarrays on a standard microscope slide," Shi told BioArray News  recently. "The end result is the same as if you did it with a GeneMachines spotter, except for the throughput and the quality that we can deliver."

Unlike Illumina, the other microarray maker that uses fiber optics, GenoSpectra is designing its arrays to work on an open system.

"If you use Illumina arrays, the whole system has to be supplied by Illumina," Shi noted. Of course, there are more obvious differences, namely that Illumina's arrays are really beads at the end of fiber optic strands.

GenoSpectra is banking on the fact that its technology allows it to spot an entire chip at once rather than spot-by-spot. The other advantage is that the fiber optics allow the company to see what is being put down and perform quality control in real-time, Shi said.

The company said it will use this time-saving technique to make cheaper oligo arrays, which it plans to sell directly to customers. GenoSpectra will use presynthesized oligos and will spot them down on the glass slide. But it has not yet figured out what to charge for the arrays, Shi said.

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