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CMDX, Alpha Innotech to Integrate Systems in Latest Array Provider-Instrument Vendor Deal


Following what appears to be a market trend, Bay Area microarray tool vendor Alpha Innotech last week signed a co-marketing deal with CombiMatrix Molecular Diagnostics in which it will integrate its AlphaScan laser scanner with CMDX's array comparative genomic hybridization platform.

Under the terms of the deal, CMDX will be able to recommend a single, integrated platform to its CGH customers for constitutional chromosome imbalances as well as genetic diseases and syndromes. CMDX launched its array CGH product in April (see BAN 4/25/2006).

CMDX will also carry most of the sales and marketing weight under the deal, according to Sia Ghazvini, vice president of business development at Alpha Innotech. "We integrated our imaging system with their chip technologies and they will, through their sales channels, sell those products to their end users," Ghazvini said.

The deal represents an example of Alpha Innotech's strategy to team up with content providers in the array space, and mirrors a broader trend in which tool vendors and array content developers are partnering to offer integrated systems to customers.

"Our strategy lies in working with application developers to integrate our instrumentation with their applications. So this is a deal within that realm," Ghazvini told BioArray News last week.

"Our strategy lies in working with application developers to integrate our instrumentation with their applications. So this is a deal within that realm."

Matthew Watson, CEO of CMDX, a wholly owned subsidiary of CombiMatrix, said that the company chose Alpha Innotech's scanner for its bacterial artificial clone CGH arrays "because it performs very well for that application and it is competitively priced."

"CombiMatrix does not have a scanner for BAC CGH arrays," although it does have a scanner for oligo arrays, Watson told BioArray News this week. "For the foreseeable future we will recommend the Alpha Innotech scanner for our BAC CGH arrays and CombiMatrix's scanner for our oligo arrays," he said.

Since its 2005 spinout from CombiMatrix, CMDX has stressed its platform independence.

In March, Mansoor Mohammed, chief scientific officer of CMDX, said that the company was "not married to any platform whatsoever" (see BAN 3/28/2006). The company currently manufactures array CGH chips for Array Genomics (see BAN 3/14/2006).

Alpha Innotech has entered into similar pacts in the past. For example, in September 2005 the company entered an unofficial co-marketing alliance with Schott-Nexterion and Genomic Solutions to offer its NovaRay reader with Schott's slides and plates and GS' MicroGrid array spotters as an integrated system for microtiter plate users (see BAN 9/21/2005).

In another instance, Alpha Innotech partnered with ProteoPlex in 2003 to co-market its AlphaArray 7000MPS high-throughput microarray reader and ProteoPlex's multiplex assay systems. Also, in a somewhat different kind of arrangement, GE Healthcare announced a deal with Alpha Innotech in January to bundle the NovaRay reader with GE's ArrayVision microarray analysis software (see BAN 5/28/2003, BAN 1/24/2006).

According to Ghazvini, Alpha Innotech "anticipates more deals like this coming up."

Integrating Offerings

Alpha Innotech's deal with CMDX hasn't occurred in a bubble, however. Across the microarray instrumentation industry there is increasing consensus that tool vendors and content developers should team up to offer fully integrated systems to customers.

Like Alpha Innotech, PerkinElmer has followed a strategy of pairing its tools with others' content. In September 2005, the Boston-based firm inked a deal with Eppendorf to promote the use of Eppendorf's DualChip content arrays with PE's ScanArray GX microarray analysis system (see BAN 9/21/2005).

Peter Banks, PerkinElmer's proteomic business leader, told BioArray News at the time that PE realized that it could not compete in a content-array market dominated by companies like Affymetrix and Agilent Technologies.

"If you look at our product offering, we're really strong in processing and reading and spotting, and we are not very strong with regards to the actual content," Banks said. "We see [PE] serving the marketplace much better if [it] works with content providers, so rather than [PE] reinventing what they've got, [it should] work with them," he added.

Another shop that is following a similar strategy is Tecan, a Swiss life sciences tools company that sells both hybridization stations and laser scanners. For example, Tecan's HS4800 hybridization system has been selected to be part of Abbott Molecular's GeneTrait Microarray System Dx, which is expected to launch in 2007 (see BAN 5/2/2006).

Also, like Alpha Innotech's deal with GE Healthcare, Tecan partnered last year with BioDiscovery to integrate BioDiscovery's GeneDirector microarray data-management software with Tecan's HS series of automated hybridization stations (see BAN 7/6/2005).

Camilo Canel, a genomics and proteomics specialist at Tecan, told BioArray News this week that the company will continue to "work with leading content providers to validate protocols and enable them to offer integrated systems that include the Tecan HS and LS lines of hybridization stations and scanners."

— Justin Petrone ([email protected])

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