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GE Healthcare Gives CodeLink a Facelift With New Custom Array and Web Center Offerings


SALT LAKE CITY — GE Healthcare has recently launched a custom array service for users of its CodeLink bioarray platform, plans to introduce a web portal for custom array design, and is plotting theme-specific microarrays for the future, according to a company official.

Speaking to an audience of prospective users at the American Society of Human Genetics conference held here last week, Randall Lockner, a senior scientist in GE's CodeLink unit, said that his company is now capable of offering customers custom CodeLink bioarrays and has been providing customers with the arrays for several months.

"We do at this time have capabilities to generate custom arrays," Lockner said. He added that GE plans to "market custom arrays more in the future."

Lockner, who has been with the CodeLink unit since it was created by Motorola, said GE's new custom array service can be accessed through three offerings: Custom Re-Array, DeNovo Array, and Custom Hybrid Array.

In the case of CodeLink's Custom Re-Array, customers can select oligos from existing GE catalogue of 120K probes for the firm's whole genome catalogue bioarrays and have them spotted on one slide into a 16-array format.

With the DeNovo Array offering, customers can design and define the probes within the 16-array format themselves, rather than choose them from GE's catalogue. The Custom Hybrid Arrays, meantime, enable users to mix, match and combine existing CodeLink probes and customer-defined probes on one hybrid biochip.

Looking to spruce up its catalogue, GE is thinking about developing focused arrays including theme-specific catalogue arrays such as apoptosis or cytokine arrays. However, these specific arrays are just ideas right now.

Lockner said that users typically order a minimum of 102 slides for one assay, or 24 slides for the 16-assay format.

The probe density on the custom arrays will be 60K for one assay format, or 1,280 spots for a 16-assay format, he said.

Web Center

To enable users to access GE's catalogue of available probes and design their own arrays on the CodeLink platform, Lockner said the company is putting the finishing touches on a web service that will be capable of doing just that. Called the "Web Center," the site is planned to go live by the end of this quarter.

According to Lockner, the Web Center, which can currently be accessed by customers but cannot fulfill orders, will provide users with a gene list, a probe list, CodeLink-related product files, probe queries, sequence displays, a MicroArray Quality Control Metrics and Thresholds reference, and an array design center.

With regards to making sequence displays, Lockner said that the CodeLink business is currently considering making all of its sequence information available to users in the future.

"Customers are demanding access and do not want to jump through a lot of hoops," Lockner said. The decision to provide access has yet to be made in conjunction with the company's legal department.

As for making MAQC metrics available through the site, GE Healthcare, as a member of MAQC, is already playing a role in the US Food and Drug Administration-hosted project that has teamed government with industry to develop quality controls for microarray experiments.

Additionally, the array design center will not allow customers to design arrays solely through the website, Lockner said last week. Rather, GE will phase the service that will enable users to design arrays solely online. "As a user you can define your content before coming to us and asking us to build you a new product," Lockner explained. Customers will be able to do everything through the interface next year.

Growing the Catalogue

During his talk in Salt Lake City, Lockner gave attendees an overview of GE's current catalogue for gene expression, which includes its 55K-feature Human Whole Genome Bioarrays, 35K Mouse Whole Genome Bioarrays, 30K Rat Whole Genome Bioarrays, and 20K and 10K UniSet Bioarrays.

Looking to spruce up its catalogue, GE is also thinking about developing focused arrays including theme-specific catalogue arrays — for example, apoptosis or cytokine arrays, Lockner said. However, he said, that those specific arrays are just ideas right now.

"We don't have any theme-specific arrays yet, but it is an area that we would like to focus on," Lockner said. Instead of coming up with the content itself, GE could "collaborate with a content provider" to make these arrays available, in a partnership where GE would commercialize the arrays, he said.

An example of GE's move towards content-specific arrays could be the recent MirVana bioarray the company has manufactured for Ambion (see BioArray News 10/05/2005).

While the array is manufactured for a specific client, it shows that GE has the capabilities to provide theme-specific arrays.

Lockner said that, as for focused arrays, GE is also offering its ADME Rat 16 array assay for toxicogenomics as well as its SNP cytochrome p450 bioarray.

— Justin Petrone ([email protected])

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