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GE to Abandon Printed CodeLink Arrays In '07; Will Help Users Pick Alternatives

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — GE Healthcare will stop manufacturing its CodeLink printed microarrays by April 2007 and will stop accepting requests from existing customers in February, the company told GenomeWeb News this week.
GE has not indicated that it will sell its CodeLink assets but said it will help clients switch to rival platforms as CodeLink is phased out, leaving the future of the 7-year-old microarray technology in limbo.
According to a GE spokesperson, in the almost three years since GE Healthcare obtained CodeLink through its acquisition of Amersham BioSciences in 2004, “GE has invested in the CodeLink business with the goal to bring a differentiated product to the research segment and establish a significant position in the microarray research market.” 
“Unfortunately, while we believe we have delivered a high-quality product, our prospects to profitably grow this product long-term have fallen short of expectations, and as a result GE has decided to discontinue the CodeLink printed microarray product line during early 2007,” the spokesperson said.
She added that GE will continue to manufacture and sell CodeLink activated blank slides for homebrew microarrays indefinitely. GE began telling its customers about its plan last week.
The spokesperson said there are several reasons behind GE's decision to scuttle the business, “one of which is that the majority of future molecular diagnostics products will use technologies other than microarrays primarily due to the small number of genes that will need to be measured for most clinical molecular diagnostics applications.” 
CodeLink is “designed to measure thousands of genes, and thus cannot compete with the cost and ease-of-use attributes required to succeed in future clinical molecular diagnostics,” she said.
The company will support all of its current customers and will serve researchers who are using CodeLink until they finish their projects, the spokesperson said. At that point CodeLink sales representatives will contact customers to help them transition to alternative platforms from competitors. 
GE Healthcare has not announced its intentions for CodeLink once it is wound down. The spokesperson said that it is possible that GE could put the CodeLink portfolio on the block, but so far the company has only decided to discontinue making and selling pre-printed arrays.
Several CodeLink customers told GenomeWeb News  sister publication BioArray News this week that GE’s move could impact some ongoing projects and will most likely force them to adopt platforms from other companies.
Vladimir Benes, head of the genomics core facility at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, said that GE’s decision to scuttle the arrays was “extremely hard to understand” and added that there are a “few projects for which we anticipated use of CodeLink due to its appealing attributes which we, for the time being, will have to abandon, since no suitable substitute is presently available.”
In response to the decision, Benes said that EMBL will turn to other platforms as CodeLink shuts down. He said that the core facility will most likely assess arrays from Agilent and NimbleGen Systems for projects supported in the lab. EMBL has offered Affymetrix GeneChips, as well as CodeLink, to its customers in the past.

The complete version of this article appears in the current issue of BioArray News, a GenomeWeb News sister publication.

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