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UPDATE: Genometrix to Genotype Cattle for AniGenics

This story has been updated from a previous version.

NEW YORK, March 14 - Genometrix on Wednesday said it penned a deal with AniGenics, a start-up animal genomics company, to genotype cattle for SNPs associated with meat quality, disease resistance, and growth rate.

The deal underscores a new potential growth area for companies that provide genotyping tools and services as well as for companies that want to provide marker-assisted selection for producers of cattle and other livestock. 

"There's still a fairly small pool of players--we see a lot of opportunity," said AniGenics' CEO Steve Niemi.

Niemi said animal genomics was an untapped market, given that the market for domestic livestock is about $100 billion, roughly the same size as that of prescription drugs in the US. Currently, the other two players in the field are Celera, which operates an agricultural genomics subsidiary, and GenomicFX of Austin.

Niemi said he went with Genometrix of The Woodlands, Texas, over a handful of competitors because he was impressed with the company's logistics and archival resources as well as with its sensitivity to the cost constraints of his commodities-based business.

"Genometrix may be one of the first [genomics companies providing SNP analysis] to come up with a cost structure that appeals to animal genomics companies," said Niemi. "Others are more focused on businesses, like pharmaceuticals, with greater cost-insensitivity."

A spokeswoman for Genometrix would not disclose the financial details, the length or extent of the project, or how it compares in size with the company's other deals. Currently, Genometrix has contracts with Schering-Plough, Proctor and Gamble, and VistaGen, the spokeswoman said.

Under the terms of the deal, AniGenics, which expects to establish a base in Chicago soon, will send samples to Genometrix, which will analyze them using its VistaMorph genotyping service and its VistaLogic analysis and visualization tools.

The deal represents the first good news to come from Genometrix in a while. In February, the company withdrew its IPO due to poor market conditions. According to the company's original S-1 filing, Genometrix had $6.5 million cash and cash equivalents at the end of December 1999.

A company spokeswoman said that Genometrix had not raised any money since the filing, but noted that the company was receiving recurring sources of income from a number of undisclosed sources. She also said that Genometrix is currently working on raising private funds.  

At the end of 1999, the last year for which figures were available, Genometrix had annual revenues of $1.7 million.

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