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Vendor Exodus a Sign of Market Maturity


First it was GE Healthcare. Then it was Nanogen. And later still it was Applied Biosystems. The playing field certainly got smaller last year as several manufacturers gave up on marketing arrays for use in both research and diagnostics, despite that fact that vendors such as Affymetrix and Illumina reported increasing array revenues driven by new chips.

From the perspective of long-term consumers of microarray technology, the exit of several array vendors from the marketplace was a predictable consequence and indicative of any new technology market as it matures.

According to Shawn Levy, director of the Vanderbilt Microarray Shared Resource at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., over the past 12 months the array market has behaved “similar to any other technology-driven consumer market.”

“Overall, biotechnology is very similar to other technology areas in that you see expansions and contractions of certain markets dependent on what people are interested in,” he adds.

Levy’s core lab currently offers a variety of array platforms to its users, including Applied Biosystems’ 1700 Chemiluminescent Expression Analysis System. ABI announced its plans to discontinue the 1700 system and move users to the SOLiD, its next-generation sequencing platform, in October.

According to Levy, firms that have managed to maintain market share have done so by “either offering a product that has unique capabilities” or by sustaining a strong service and marketing capability. 

“If you look at the major vendors as they stand now, Affymetrix has a service and marketing strength that is unmatched,” Levy says.

In terms of other players, Levy says that Agilent’s relatively lower price point and custom capabilities have ensured a reliable customer base, while Illumina has benefited by producing arrays with “outstanding quality control.” These attributes have enabled both firms to gain market share.

Justin Petrone

Microarray Notes

Researchers at Harvard Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics have decided to move a genetic test for cardiovascular diseases from Applied Biosystems’ sequencing platform to the Affymetrix GeneChip platform. To reduce time and costs, they will now offer the test for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy based on Affy’s resequencing array.

DiaGenic and researchers at Harvard Medical School will use funding from the Michael J. Fox Foundation to develop a blood-based test for early detection of Parkinson’s disease.

Golden Helix and Progeny Software will partner to develop an integrated software platform for analyzing, storing, and managing genotype and copy number variation data.


$427 million

The amount that Roche spent in 2007 for its two acquisitions, next-gen sequencing firm 454 Life Sciences for $154.9 million in May and NimbleGen for $272 million in August.

Funded grants

$368,804/FY 2007
Neuroimmune Changes in Schizophrenia
Grantee: Karoly Mirnics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Began: March 12, 2007; Ends: Feb. 28, 2012
Activation of the immune response and pro-inflammatory cytokines during pregnancy may affect normal brain development, thus predisposing for developing schizophrenia. Mirnics and colleagues will test the transcriptome response by using custom microarrays to analyze the immune transcriptome of  prefrontal cortex, superior temporal gyrus, and cerebellum in 30 subjects with schizophrenia and matched controls.

$295,452/FY 2007
Genome-wide Investigation of PDZ Domain Specificity
Grantee: Gavin MacBeath, Harvard University
Began: Feb. 1, 2005; Ends: Jan. 31, 2010
PDZs play a role in directing the specificity of receptor tyrosine kinase-mediated signaling, establishing cell polarity, directing protein trafficking, and coordinating synaptic signaling. The team will use protein microarrays to clone, express, and purify all mouse PDZ domains; identify PDZ-PDZ interactions and PDZ-protein interactions; and construct a relational database that integrates protein microarray data with published information.

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