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Nanogen Launches CF test, Gets Rights to HH Mutations

Nanogen said last week it had delivered its analyte specific reagents for the detection of the 25 gene mutations most commonly associated with cystic fibrosis to its first customer site for evaluation.

The test is designed for the company’s NanoChip molecular biology workstation, which includes the NanoChip microarray with electronic hybridization test sites.

The company said that the format of its ASR corresponds to the recommendations made in 2001 by the American College of Medical Genetics and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“Introducing the CF ASRs is an important strategic milestone we set, as it represents an opportunity for the company to build its consumable revenue base in the future,” stated Randy White, Nanogen’s CEO.

CF, a genetic disorder carried by 1 in 29 Caucasians, produces pulmonary and gastrointestinal symptoms, and shortened lifespan.

The introduction of this test — which the company timed for the end of its second quarter — follows the company’s recent licensing of the rights to two common mutations associated with another common disorder, hereditary hemachromatosis.

The company licensed the rights to these mutations, the C282Y and H63D mutations of the HFE gene, from Bio-Rad laboratories. Nanogen currently offers an ASR for this disorder to diagnostic labs on its NanoChip system. Under the agreement, Bio-Rad, of Hercules, Calif., has granted Nanogen a license for use of the mutations on the NanoChip system.

By the end of the year, Nanogen plans to introduce a three-SNP test for the simultaneous detection of the three most common mutations associated with this disease.

Hereditary hemochromatosis, or iron overload disease, is the most common inherited single-gene disorder among people of northern European descent. In the disease, increased intestinal iron absorption can ultimately lead to diabetes, liver cirrhosis, cardiomyopathy, impotence, and ultimately death.

About one in 10 Caucasians has one of the HH mutations, and approximately one in 250 to 300 is homozygous for the mutation, but the disorder is rarely diagnosed. Early diagnosis and regular treatment, including phlebotomy, can provide patients with relief from symptoms and a normal life expectancy.


Virtek Sells Microarray Business to Bio-Rad

Canadian laser and automation maker Virtek Vision has sold its microarray business to Bio-Rad Labs for about C$10 million (US $6.6 million), Virtek said.

The sale comes after four months in which Virtek sought to sell its microarray division, as part of an effort to return to profitability.

Under this contract, Bio-Rad will obtain all property related to Virtek’s ChipReader microarray scanner, its ChipWriter Pro spotter, and its arraying and picking systems. Bio-Rad plans to establish a new microarray and automation business unit in Virek’s operations center in Waterloo, Ontario, and has hired Virtek’s employees to continue developing the microarray technology.


Zyomyx Signs Partnership with Partners

Protein microarray company Zyomyx of Hayward, Calif., has signed a three-year partnership with Partners Healthcare of Boston in which Partners will use the protein chip system in clinical research.

With its two founding hospitals — Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s — affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Partners is a leader in conducting basic translational and clinical research.

Under the agreement, Zyomyx and Partners will jointly establish a protein profiling research core facility to identify and validate biomarkers associated with disease. Zyomyx will provide a protein analysis system, which includes a workstation, software, and ready-to use antibody chips.


Dutch University Launches Protein Chip Program

The University of twente in the Netherlands has put together a new biochip research group, headed by applied physics professor Richard Schasfoort, to dev-
elop large-scale proteomics chips.

Schasfoort and his group of six scientists and technicians are developing this chip using a combination of microfluidics and surface plasmon resonance techniques. The substrate is a grid of gold rectangular “landing pads” for the proteins. The proteins captured on this surface are scanned by a laser, and the pattern of deposition is captured on an image.

Schasfoort, who is also a chemical engineer, is aiming to develop an integrated protein chip system. The Dutch organization for scientific research has awarded Schasfoort an award of over 700,000 euros over five years. He previously developed basic components for an SPR-based prostate cancer monitoring system.

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