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Agilix Introduces an Array for all Species

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Got a pig genome you need sequenced? If it’s a guinea pig, Agilix of New Haven will be glad to do it, but be prepared, this offshoot of Yale University is holding its pricing plans close to its chest.

It’s a company that is used to keeping things quiet, having operated in a low-key mode for three years. Last week, however, Agilix stepped into the spotlight at the Chips to Hits conference in Philadelphia, unveiling its GenCompass-brand, whole genome, universal microarray technology to a crowd of about 70 people in a seminar room of the Marriott Hotel.

The GenCompass technology can profile any organism, needing no custom chips; it will detect known and novel genes, comparing them to reference sequence databases where available, and will sample throughout transcripts, the company said in introducing the product.

The technology, which is based on inventions by Paul Lizardi, associate professor of pathology at the Yale School of Medicine and the inventor of rolling circle amplification, is licensed from Yale and involves a 4,096-element “universal” array of oligonucleotide probes of six-base length. The company hybridizes this array with 14-base sequence tags that it creates through two ligation operations and multiplies through PCR. The process allows the company to manufacture its products at an industrial scale and to quickly adjust to market changes, the company said.

Grant Carlson, vice president of marketing, would not provide a price range for the service-based offerings. On a scale with the cost of the multi-million dollar human genome sequencing effort on one end and the cost of an Affymetrix chip on the other, he said it would be closer to the lower-priced end of the continuum.

“For a principal investigator, this should be within his budget,” he said.

“We are talking about people who are working with hamsters, sea urchins, dogs, cats, and guinea pigs, who have no alternative other than waiting until their organism is sequenced.”

Agilix will sell a proprietary protein labeling system based on tandem mass spectrometry called I-PROT Labels.

The company is funded with $28 million in venture capital.

— MOK

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