GE Healthcare’s CodeLink unit will launch its mouse whole-genome bioarray next week, completing the line of mammalian whole-genome chips it had intended to launch this year. The introduction follows the August release of its rat whole-genome bioarray and the launch last spring of its human whole-genome chip
GE will join Affymetrix, Agilent, and Applied Biosystems, which have all released mouse whole-genome chips to the market.
The firm declined to comment on sales of the rat and human whole-genome bioarrays thus far — or on potential market size for the products — but it has launched a noticeable ad campaign. A full-page ad appears in the most recent issue of Nature for the human whole-genome chip. The ads started appearing this summer and have appeared in a “wide variety of journals,” according to Hrissi Samartzidou, senior product marketing manager for the CodeLink platform.
Since Amersham Biosciences acquired the CodeLink platform from Motorola in July 2002, the unit — which was subsequently purchased by GE — has devoted its energy to improving the arrays, the instrumentation, and the peripherals, such as reagents and software, Samartzidou said. “We have released a number of products since the acquisition. At the beginning of 2003, we launched a second human 10K [bioarray], a human 20K, and a mouse 20K. At the same time, we launched new reagent kits with higher sensitivity, and we launched two or three generations of software for analysis of the bioarrays,” she added.
But the human whole-genome bioarray was likely the most significant and anticipated of the introductions. GE is one of several firms, including Affymetrix, Agilent, Applied Biosystems, and Telechem, to launch a whole-human-genome chip this year — although “whole-human-genome” is a relative term, given that the number of genes and the sources for content vary from chip to chip on the market.
The content for the CodeLink bioarray comes from NCBI, Unigene, RefSeq, LocusLink, and Ensembl, according to Samartzidou. “We rely exclusively on publicly available content. We don’t want restrictions to our end users in terms of access to content,” she said.
Samartzidou told BioArray News, “This bioarray offers the most comprehensive coverage of the human genome as we know it today in terms of the density, in terms of genes targeted, and the quality of the content. It targets 55,000 human genes and transcript targets on a single bioarray.”
“It’s not only the best content, but it’s also the best-performing bioarray in terms of sensitivity, reproducibility, and specificity,” she claimed.
This assertion was backed by Scott Magnuson, president of GenUs Biosystems, a Chicago-based gene expression-services provider, who also helped develop the CodeLink technology while working for Motorola. The CodeLink array has the “best content on the market right now,” he told BioArray News.
The customers have “been real happy with it. It’s achieving better than TaqMan sensitivity across the board,” he said, referring to ABI’s TaqMan product line. “The reproducibility is great,” Magnuson added.
Although GE would not provide pricing information on the human whole-genome bioarray, Samartzidou said, “These products are priced very competitively. List price, we are on par with competitive products in terms of whole-genome bioarrays.”
Competitors currently sell their whole-human-genome chips at prices of $500-$750, with discounts applying for volume purchases. But one highly anticipated arrival in this market, Taiwan’s Phalanx Biotech Group, has taken aim at those companies already on the market by offering a pre-launch introductory price of $100 per chip for minimum purchases of 100 chips. (see BAN 6/9/2004)
Magnuson said that while GE’s chip is competitive in price, “you’re still getting more genes for your dollar with the CodeLink platform.”
Despite trailing Affymetrix in getting its mammalian whole-genome arrays on the market — as well as competition from the other industry players — the firm is betting on the sensitivity and reproducibility of its technology in gaining market share.
“There’s still an uphill battle against Affymetrix. First to market is still a big thing,” Magnuson said. But, he noted, “Where we’re seeing a real push is among new users.”