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Bioarray Briefs: Mar 1, 2002


Agilix raises Additional $7M in Series B Financing Round


Adding $7 million in additional funds to its piggybank, Universal array maker Agilix of New Haven, Conn., closed its Series B financing round this week with a total of $28 million.

The company plans to offer whole-genome analysis services to its customers for a variety of organisms.

Agilix’s technology is based on a system, invented by Yale professor of pathology Paul Lizardi and licensed to the company, that uses rolling circle amplification to detect gene expression patterns in genes from any organism. This method, the “Fixed address analysis of sequence tags” (FAAST) transcription analysis system, uses the same set of “universal probes” on each array.

In the system, nucleic acid tags are attached to target molecules and these combination molecules are amplified using rolling circle amplification. The final detection stage involves multicolored coding probes that allow simultaneous detection of different target circles.

New investors in Agilix included SAIC Venture Capital and Temasek Capital, joining Burrill & Company, Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management, Stephens Group, Wheatley MedTech Partners, BioVeda, and ATP Capital, which had all signed on before the initial closing at the end of December.


Alpha Innotech and Panomics to Co-market Arrays, Labels, Imaging System


Panomics of Redwood City, Calif., and Alpha Innotech of San Leandro, Calif., announced this week they would co-market Alpha Innotech’s FluorChem fluorescence and chemiluminescence imaging system and Panomics’ TranSignal chemiluminescence-based membrane array products.

Panomics markets several arrays, including a p53 target gene array, an SH3 domain protein array, a transcription factor cDNA array, and protein/DNA array. The last of these is designed to profile the activities of 54 transcription factors simultaneously. The array kit includes a mix of specially designed oligonucleotide probes that bind to certain proteins to form protein/DNA complexes. The protein/DNA complexes are then separated from the unbound probes by running them through an agarose gel. After the probes are separted from the proteins, they are hybridized to the array to determine which transcription factors were present.

Alpha Innotech’s FluorChem imaging system generates high-resolution digital image acquisition of microarrays and blots. Panomics arrays can work with either x-ray film or chemiluminescent imaging systems.


BioMicro Places Microfluidic Microarrays at Alpha Evaluation Sites


BioMicro of Sandy, Utah, has signed agreements with the National Cancer Institute, Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the Buck Institute for Age Research to evaluate its Microarray User Interface (MAUI) microfluidic microarrays.

BioMicro’s arrays apply its patented technique of controlling fluid through microchannels using passive valves. Each MAUI chip is said to be disposable, can fit atop most standard microscope slide arrays, and costs about $50. The current platform is manual, but BioMicro intends to develop an automated version that would allow the manipulation of multiple samples of reagents.


Funding-Hungry CombiMatrix Gets NIH Grant to Further Develop Protein Biochip


CombiMatrix was awarded a Phase I grant last week from the National Institutes of Health to further develop its protein chips, adding to two SBIR grants from the US Department of Defense.

“We are now in rapid development of protein synthesis and analysis tools utilizing our core technology,” said CombiMatrix CEO Amit Kumar in a statement. “The NIH grant as well as the previous Department of Defense grant is validation of our approach.”

CombiMatrix, a wholly owned subsidiary of Squolamie, Wash.-based Acacia Research, uses complementary metal oxide semiconductor technology to create chips with 1,024 test sites, or what the company calls “virtual flasks.” The sites are covered with a thick porous layer of material, where the test sample is contained, and each site is attached to an electrode. A fluidics unit delivers the test sample to each virtual flask.

The basic platform is flexible, allowing DNA, RNA, peptides, or other small molecules to be synthesized or immobilized within the test sites. With the recent SBIR grants, the company has been developing its arrays as portable antigen detection devices for biological agents such as saxitoxin. But the company is also seeking out commercial collaborators to market antigen detection devices in other markets, Kumar said.

The Scan

Follow-Up Data Requests to Biobank Participants Ineffective, Study Finds

An effort to recontact biobank enrollees for additional information reports low participation in a new BMJ Open study.

Study Finds Widespread Transmission of Resistant Bacteria in Vietnam Hospitals

A sequencing study in The Lancet Microbe finds widespread transmission of drug-resistant Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Acinetobacter baumannii in two Vietnam ICUs.

Novel Brain Cell Organoids Show Promise for Autism Research

University of Utah researchers report in Nature Communications on their development of brain cell organoids to study SHANK3-related autism.

Study Finds Few FDA Post-Market Regulatory Actions Backed by Research, Public Assessments

A Yale University-led team examines in The BMJ safety signals from the US FDA Adverse Event Reporting System and whether they led to regulatory action.