Affymetrix is experimenting with a format for manufacturing its microarrays that will allow the company to cut 6,400 chips out of a wafer, Greg Schiffman, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company's chief financial officer, said last week at the Lehman Brothers Healthcare conference in Miami Beach, Fla.
Today, the company manufacturers just 49 chips to a wafer, the blank of quartz that it uses as the surface foundation on which to build its DNA probes via photolithography.
In addition to this design, which is intended to serve the potential clinical market, the com-pany is also experimenting with its chips in an “array of arrays,” using microtiter plates for large-scale testing and diagnostic applications. The company is also researching the development of an automated machine using off-the-shelf technology, Schiffman said.
In the week since that announcement was made, Affymetrix rolled out new formats for its custom arrays, introducing products formatted for 520, 3,600, and 8,400 genes, in addition to its original 1,700-gene format CustomExpress Array product.
On Monday, the company introduced new mouse and rat microarray products (see page 2).
Microarrays, Schiffman said, account for 60 percent of the com-pany's revenue stream, and its whole genome expression arrays for human, mouse, and rat are the company's top selling catalog product offerings.
The academic market, he said, is the company's fastest growing market segment over the past 18 months. Schiffman said the company plans to introduce new prices to target the academic market, which has been vocal in its displeasure with the company's premium pricing.
Meantime, Affymetrix’ pharmaceutical business has been spurred by downstream applications in pharmaceutical development. Schiffman said there are 11 early-stage clinical trials where Affymetrix products have been applied.
The gene-expression analysis market will continue to be the company's key driver, he said.
“We have gone from $55 million in revenues to $70 million in a tight environment,” he said.” We innovate and commercialize innovative technology and that will drive strong growth over the next several years.”