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A Year After Codelink Buy, Applied Microarrays Increases Focus on OEM Projects

BARCELONA, Spain — For the first five months of 2007, the future of the Codelink bioarray platform looked bleak. GE Healthcare had pledged to help customers adopt other platforms, and shutter the business and sell off its assets should a buyer not be found. Then, a last-minute deal with Applied Microarrays in April secured the future of the platform.
 
For an undisclosed price, AMI gained everything from GE associated with the platform save the slides and reagents from Codelink. Now, a year after the purchase, AMI is increasingly finding that Codelink’s production capability -- rather than the whole-genome human, mouse, and rat arrays that largely defined the bioarray platform under previous owners -- is driving the firm’s business.
 
“Our number one business is as an OEM partner for custom microarrays,” said AMI CEO Alastair Malcolm. Malcolm spoke with BioArray News at Select Biosciences’ Advances in Microarray Technology conference, held here this week.
 
“What we have seen, and what some of the presenters at this conference have shown, is that there has just been an explosion in the types of biomarkers that have become available,” he said. “It’s gone way beyond gene expression and genotyping.”
 
According to Malcolm, AMI is taking advantage of the technical capabilities developed and improved under Codelink’s previous owners GE Healthcare, Amersham, and Motorola, to reach markets that those previous companies themselves never addressed.
 
“They had developed miRNA platforms, antibody platforms, peptide platforms, but never launched them as products,” he said. Malcolm added that repositioning the Codelink business from a gene-expression catalog array provider to an OEM manufacturer has always been the company’s strategy.
 
“That was always our strategic intention, and after 12 months in business now that really is 80 percent of our business,” he said.
 
Codelink's catalog business, though, is in his words, “alive and well.” AMI is increasingly working with a variety of tools providers to develop protocols for using the platform in any number of lab set-ups. AMI is also selling multi-format, whole-genome arrays at competitive prices — $80 in the US, €50 ($77) in Europe. Older development projects, to produce more content-specific arrays, have been abandoned, however, as the firm concentrates on developing “high-volume” OEM partnerships.
 
“In a sense, because we are an OEM partner for people who may well be developing something like a cardiac array or some other cancer-specific chip, we don’t want to compete, if you like, with our customers,” said Malcolm. “We want to support their custom array for a disease or a pathway and allow them to take that to market. We will be the expert spotting company that supports them.”
 
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