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UPDATE: Protogene, Sequenom in Collaboration to Develop Diagnostic Chip

This story was updated from a previous version.

NEW YORK, Jan 26 - Protogene Laboratories and Sequenom said Friday they had agreed to work together to see if their technologies could be combined and integrated into a new silicon-based diagnostic chip.

Under the terms of the research collaboration the companies will integrate Protogene’s surface tension DNA microarray technology with aspects of Sequenom’s MassArray technology. The combined technology would then be applied to a silicon chip Protogene is currently developing, which would be used for high-throughput SNP analysis.

“We are trying to get all the reactions to be done on the surface of the chip without having to transfer them,” said a Sequenom spokesman. “We’re hoping their substrate will allow this.”

The spokesman said that the deal was “just a research collaboration at this point,” adding that both companies were contributing equally to the joint venture.

If the companies succeed in creating a lab-on-a-chip diagnostic tool, they would have to negotiate terms for commercialization of the device, the spokesman said.

Sequenom has also forged other deals to develop diagnostic tools. In August Sequenom announced a collaboration with the Public Health Research Institute to develop high-speed diagnostic tests to identify multidrug-resistant M. tuberculosis strains.

Protogene said that the collaboration represented a step toward breaking into a potentially lucrative market.

" We are very excited about collaborating with Sequenom to jointly develop high quality silicon-based SNP detection assays suitable for use in clinical diagnostics, as the opportunity to provide gene-based diagnostics for a wide variety of diseases may represent an emerging market opportunity of enormous potential," Christopher Wolf, president and CEO of Protogene, said in a statement.

Protogene’s technology is designed to make custom DNA microarrays, combining in situ synthesis of oligonucleotides with inkjet printing methods and patented surface tension array technology. The company, which has developed a glass DNA microarray substrate, is currently working on a silicon chip.

Sequenom’s MassArray system is designed for large-scale SNP analysis. The technology relies on proprietary enzymology, bioinformatics, and a miniaturized silicon chip as well as mass spectrometry. The system does not involve labels or tags.

In the statement Protogene said it was “actively pursuing” other deals for its silicon-based microarrays.

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