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Gene Networks in Supply Agreement for HitachiSoft s AceGene Microarrays in Japan

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Gene Networks, a Tokyo-based pharmaceutical development company armed with $7 million in venture capital financing, will purchase an undisclosed number of AceGene microarrays manufactured by HitachiSoft.

“We plan to be a major user of microarrays,” Carol Cherkis, vice president of business development for Gene Networks, told BioArray News on Monday.

The company is developing a gene knockdown database derived from microarray analysis and focused on finding genes at the roots of its research and discovery interests in inflammation, angiogenesis, and cardiovascular disease.

Gene Networks seeks to identify drug targets directly from microarray data, distinguishing genes related to the causes of a disease from those that relate to its effects.

“So many people developing treatments against gene targets find that their compounds are not effective,” she said. “That’s because it is downstream. We want to find the causal genes, the targets.”

Cherkis, the former director of healthcare at Frost & Sullivan, and prior to that, biotechnology program director in Dow Chemical’s corporate ventures group, works from the Gene Networks’ San Jose, Calif., offices.

Currently, she said, the company spots its own microarrays using the Lucidea microarray platform distributed by Amersham Biosciences, now GE Healthcare, but will add the arrays manufactured by HitachiSoft. All of Gene Networks’ wet lab research is conducted in its laboratories in Japan.

“From what I understand, there is some testing to do in the lab on the arrays,” she said. “For our computational algorithms, we need the cleanest array data we can get.”

The company is using transcriptome data derived from microarray analysis to create full-genome transcriptome libraries based on results of hundreds of single gene deletions in a project to gauge the effect of each individual gene’s presence or absence on the expression of all the other genes in the genome.

“As we find the appropriate targets, the hot ones, we will become very large users of microarrays,” Cherkis said.

HitachiSoft introduced the AceGene microarray product in 2002 (see BAN 10/18/2002). The product is only sold in the Japanese market.

According to MWG Biotech, HitachiSoft will use MWG-manufactured and designed oligonucleotides for the 50-mer probes on the AceGene 30K human genome chip set, which it manufactures by in situ synthesis.

—MOK

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