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Affymetrix, Gene Express, TissueInformatics, Genomic Solutions, Lynx Therapeutics, Amersham


Affymetrix Rolls Out New Formats for its Custom Arrays

Affymetrix this week introduced new CustomExpress microarray products formatted for 520, 3,600 and 8,400 genes — in addition to its original 1,700-gene format product.

In its first product rollout of the year, the Santa Clara, Calif., microarray market leader added a product line that addresses the custom market, those researchers whose needs are not met by the company catalog.

“The [product line] enables scientists to quickly design arrays tailored to their specific application, such as follow-up studies on candidate genes or profiling gene expression in genomes not already represented on an Affymetrix catalog array,” Elizabeth Kerr, Affymetrix senior marketing director of gene expression, said in a statement issued by the company on Tuesday.

The CustomExpress Array Program now offers arrays containing from 520 genes to 22,500 genes. Each gene on the company’s arrays will be represented by multiple probe pairs. The company said the products can be shipped as quickly as six weeks after designs are completed.

Pricing was not disclosed.


Gene Express to Get $1M Ohio Grant

Gene Express of Toledo, Ohio, has been recommended for a $1 million grant from the state of Ohio as part of the state’s Third Frontier grants initiative, the office of Gov. Bob Taft announced this week. The Third Frontier project is a 10-year, $1.6 billion plan to create jobs and nurture entrepreneurship.

The recommendation, subject to approval by the State controlling Board, will be administered by the Ohio Department of Development.

The grant for Gene Express is for the commercialization of service and reagents for standardized reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, or StaRT-PCR, a process developed and patented by James Willey, professor of medicine, Medical College of Ohio in Toledo. StaRT-PCR is a system to measure gene expression in a standardized, high throughput, and inexpensive fashion.

StaRT-PCR adds to the PCR reaction mixture a specific DNA sequence that multiplies at the same efficiency as the original gene, so the DNA sequence functions as an internal standard. As of August, Gene Express had created reagents for more than 400 genes with another 1,600 agents in production. The company expects to have reagents for some 10,000 genes within two years.


TissueInformatics Debuts Microarray Services

TissueInformatics of Pittsburgh last week rolled out a high-throughput tissue microarray analysis service.

The company is emphasizing speed and is targeting drug discovery, basing its new service around its software and high-speed digital microscopes to produce slide imaging, quantitative analysis, and the statistical reporting of tissue microarray results.


Genomic Solutions Offers $8.3 M for GeneMachines

Genomic Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Harvard Bioscience, said this week that it plans to acquire genomic tool company GeneMachines for around $8.3 million in cash.

The acquisition is expected to close in mid March, subject to the approval of GeneMachines’ shareholders. According to Harvard Bioscience, enough GeneMachines shareholders necessary to approve the transaction have already agreed to vote in favor of the proposed acquisition.

GeneMachines develops and distributes high-throughput instrumentation for DNA and protein microarray production, nucleic acid sample preparation, and DNA synthesis.


Lynx Revenues Down, Net Loss Up

Lynx Therapeutics recorded a net loss of $3 million for the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, the company reported last week.

The Hayward, Calif.-based genomics discovery services firm increased its losses from $2.8 million for the year-ago quarter and had total revenues of $4.7 million for the quarter, compared to $5.7 million for the same quarter in 2001. The company had net revenues of $4.8 million for the third quarter of 2002, and a net loss of $3.3 million. Lynx spent $4.2 million on research and development for the quarter, compared to $6.2 million for the year-ago quarter.


Amersham Biosciences Reorganizes, Cuts 400 Jobs

Amersham PLC, the parent company of Amersham Biosciences of Piscataway, NJ, and the UK-based diagnostic imaging business Amersham Health, announced last week the elimination of 400 manufacturing and R&D jobs, as well as a reshuffling of executive management, to bring the discovery systems portion of the Biosciences business — the company’s only unprofitable division — into profitability by 2004.

The restructuring will not affect the company’s CodeLink division, an Amersham spokesman said.

The 400 job cuts, made yesterday from the company's European, Japanese, and US operations included a net loss of 260 jobs from US facilities in San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Calif., Lawrenceville, NJ, and Piscataway, NJ. The reorganization, at a one-time cost of $72 million with a projected savings of $47 million, will centralize research operations for discovery systems in Piscataway, and consolidate discovery systems manufacturing.


The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.