Arrayjet, a 5-year-old spin-off from the Scottish Centre for Genomic Technology and Informatics (GTI), has entered the European tools market with its first product, a microarray printer, BioArray News has learned.
Duncan Hall, the marketing and sales director of the Stirling, Scotland-based company, said that the company is now making available its Arrayjet100 microarray spotter, a non-contact, ink-jet-enabled printer, that Hall claims will produce microarrays of “excellent quality, consistency and uniformity.”
“A range of different analytes [can] be printed, including antibodies, oligonucleotides, and intact cells, which have been shown to be bioavailable in subsequent assays,” he said.
According to Douglas Roy, a molecular biologist at the University of Edinburgh who co-founded Arrayjet in 2000 with physicist Howard Manning from the University of Cambridge and Peter Ghazal, the director of GTI, the motivation for creating the microarray spotter was to increase flexibility for researchers who print their own tools and to create high-quality arrays that will provide reserachers with a more consistent set of data.
“The key feature here is increasing density on the arrays. You can enhance the quality of your data from the consistency of array-to-array variation. If arrays were absolutely perfect compared to each other then that would translate to a higher quality of data” said Roy.
Roy said that Arrayjet’s ink-jet based printing made it more attractive than the standard pin-based microarray spotters offered by competitors because they often experience differentiation in quality of printing — so those producing their own arrays would often wind up with “sub-arrays” or quadrants of the chip that had higher densities of oligonucleotides than others.
“They achieve a certain level and then they just plateau and it’s very hard to push beyond that. So like the pin-prints were like quill pens in the 18th century, this is sort of like modern printing for microarrays,” he said.
Hall said that there are competitors for ink-jet printing, but not in the UK, and Roy confirmed that the initial market for Arrayjet will be in the UK and Europe. Hall said they had already sold three of their printers, one at GTI, and two more at research facilities within the UK. Hall said further discussions were at advanced stages and would not disclose the firm’s first customers.
Both said that their product differed from competitors because of its easily replaceable print-head.
Hall declined to discuss pricing of the printer, only to say that it was available upon application.
The new offering represents a foray into the market from part of a cluster of genomic activity in Scotland that includes GTI and the University of Edinburgh, as well as the Roslin Institute and researchers at the University of Glasgow.
Roy said that Arrayjet and GTI see themselves at the nucleus of the developing Scottish genomic cluster.
Arrayjet is a privately held company, and it secured £1 million ($1.6 million) in funding in May 2003 from the Scottish investment group, Archangels Informal Investments, the Scottish Enterprises Investment Fund, as well as a loan guarantee from the Bank of Scotland. (See BAN 5/9/2003)