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GE Healthcare to Debut New CodeLink Reagents Kit In May; Plans Software, iCenter Upgrades


VANCOUVER, BC -- Continuing a series of recent upgrades to its CodeLink bioarray offering, GE Healthcare is planning to release several new products and product enhancements this quarter, according to a GE official.

Gretchen Kiser, a CodeLink senior scientist, said last week that GE will release an upgraded version of its Expression Analysis software next month and launch a new reagents kit for the array platform in June. She also said GE continues to build features and support options for its iCenter online array tool, which the company rolled out at the end of last year (see BAN 11/2/2005). The tool was originally called Web Center.

"We are updating our kit for expression reagents based on Ambion's Message Amp II technology," Kiser said. "A software update is due out in April." Kiser made her comments during the World Microarray Congress, held here last week.

According to Kiser, the new Expression Assay Reagents Kit will reflect the availability of the new MessageAmp II-Biotin Enhanced Kit from Ambion, which was recently released. GE currently manufactures MirVana microRNA arrays for Ambion, and though Ambion was recently acquired by Applied Biosystems, the acquisition has had little impact in its relationship with GE so far (see BAN 03/14/2006, BAN 3/7/2006).

With regards to the software upgrades, Kiser said that users will now be able to normalize and analyze data by application. They will also have access to updated bioarray quality controls and be able to more flexibly export data. The upgraded Expression Analysis Software version 5.0 will replace GE's current version 4.1. "We have eight different formats you can export your data into now, so you can choose which one you want," she said.

"In the past customers had to go through hoops to get the sequence information, it will all be there now."

Also, Kiser said that GE is continuing to add customer service and support to its recently launched iCenter, a free online tool that provides CodeLink users with access to its bioarray content and corresponding genomic information, including probe sequences, array content maps, and gene annotations.

"We launched iCenter in the fourth quarter of 2005, and this quarter we are adding interactive online customer support," Kiser told BioArray News. "There are a lot of positives for our customers. For example, in the past customers had to go through hoops to get the sequence information; it will all be there now," she said. The decision to make CodeLink's probe sequence information available is a victory for GE's bioarray team. GE senior scientist Randall Lockner told BioArray News last October that the company was still debating whether to release the probe sequence information. At the time, GE said the company still needed approval from its legal department before it could release the information.

Kiser also said that GE is taking steps to offer an automated system for its CodeLink platform. "We have an automation protocol for post-hybridization," Kiser said, "but a full automation protocol for the whole system -- pre-hybridization and post-hybridization -- is in development," she said. Kiser declined to offer any timeline on when GE will offer a fully automated system.

— Justin Petrone ([email protected])

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