Axon Instruments this week is introducing its next-generation microarray scanner, the GenePix Professional 4200A.
The scanner market has been active in the first three months of the year. Affymetrix introduced its own microarray scanner to replace a scanner manufactured by Agilent, while also buying three high-end Axon scanners to customize for a still-in-development GeneChip system for high-throughput microarray analysis (See BioArray News, March 28, 2003).
The 4200A is Axon’s first scanner that is fully configurable, with a choice of up to four internal lasers and 16 emission filters. It also includes adjustable focusing and enhanced laser-power control to accommodate a variety of sample types.
Configured for two colors, red and green, the scanner has a suggested price of $60,000. The four- color scanner, with red, green, yellow, and blue, will list for $90,000. Buyers can order the system with two to four lasers at purchase, or add lasers later. The 4200A is 17 inches wide, 25.6 inches deep, and 13.5 inches tall. It weighs 99 pounds, fully loaded. It is packaged with Axon’s GenePix Pro acquisition and analysis software and the Acuity microarray informatics and visualization software as an option.
“This really rounds out the whole GenePix line,” said Siobhan Picket, Axon vice president for functional genomics.
The 4200A was two years in development and enters the top of the GenePix product line, joining the 4100A, its low-price model, and the 4000B, its original two-color model, which the company plans to continue to market.
“There is a lot of user confidence in that product [4000B] and we will sell it for as long is it continues to be popular,” said Picket.
Axon introduced the 4000 series scanner in 1999.
With four lasers, the 4200A scanner opens new possibilities on individual microarray slides. The additional colors would allow scientists to increase the number of comparisons made on individual microarrays by using additional fluorescent dyes in their assays.
That, however, is ahead of the curve in most labs, said Picket.
“It’s a less-common approach and people are still working out the protocols for [four-color applications],” Picket said. “We are starting to see some interest there, from the questions that our sales people are getting.”
Vishy Iyer, an assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at the University of Texas, Austin, beta-tested the scanner.
“It’s a neat instrument,” said Iyer. “The fact that you can now do two more colors opens up a lot of new possibilities. You can label three samples, one absolute reference and two experimental, and get a big savings in time and effort in just setting up the hyb and all the usual stuff. The quality of data will improve [with additional colors], because you are removing the array- to-array variation you had to deal with previously.”
The Union City, Calif.-based company marked the debut of its newest instrument with a party, complete with an Italian buffet. Chief executive officer Alan Finkel, who work at Axon’s Australia headquarters, joined Geoff Powell, the company’s president, with speeches saluting the project, which was led by Shawn Handran, product manager.