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Avacta, University of Liverpool Partner on Integrated Microarray, Mass Spec Tools

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Diagnostics technologies developer Avacta Group and the University of Liverpool will collaborate to develop integrated microarray and mass spectrometry tools for use in detecting biomarkers and discovering new drug targets.

Wetherby, UK-based Avacta said today the partners will combine the firm's engineered affinity reagent microarrays, which it calls Affimer microarrays, and reagents with mass spectrometry tools developed by University of Liverpool Professor Rob Beynon.

Beynon recently won a Royal Society Industrial fellowship to work with Waters and Avacta to develop methods for handling complex protein mixtures for proteomic analysis.

Avacta said it aims to commercialize its Affimers, which can be engineered to bind with high specificity and affinity to a range of protein targets, as research reagents and for use in microarrays for proteomic applications.

"Although many of our customers will have access to mass spectrometry, Avacta plans to offer this type of proteomic analysis to our customers," Avacta Chief Executive Alastair Smith said in a statement. "Integrating the arrays and mass spectrometry analysis efficiently will give us a strong competitive advantage in this fast growing proteomics market."

Affimers can be made in high-throughput labs and, according to Avacta, can increase the chances of identifying new biomarkers.

Avacta said it is providing its Affimer arrays to Professor Beynon and supporting one full-time research student on his team. It added that the methods Beynon develops for using the Affimers and mass spectrometry tools could strengthen the company's commercialization of its microarrays, and may even generate new in-house biomarker assets that could be licensed.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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