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Innogenetics to Launch HLA Typing on PamGene Array Platform This Year; More Tests to Follow


VANCOUVER, BC — Innogenetics, a Belgian diagnostics company, will begin offering human leukocyte antigen typing on PamGene's microarray platform later this year, according to a PamGene scientific advisory board member.

Bertrand Jordan, who sits on PamGene's SAB, told BioArray News at the World Microarray Congress here last week that Innogenetics is using a system specifically designed for its use called the PamStation 12 to introduce the HLA typing.

The companies began co-developing the PS-12 in May 2004. At the time the companies did not disclose the exact financial terms of the agreement, but said it includes an upfront payment as well as milestone fees when tests are launched on the market, and royalties on sales of these tests. They also said that the HLA Typing service would be available this year (see BAN 6/2/2004).

Jordan said that Innogenetics plans to introduce additional tests for the PamStation platform, including tests for cystic fibrosis and the mannose-binding lectin 2 (MBL2) gene, expected in 2007, and for infectious disease, neurodegeneration, oncology, and immunuological diseases, due in 2008.

As part of the deal, Innogenetics may use as many as 130 of the PS-12 stations as it adds tests to its menu, Jordan said. PamGene has historically sold systems that run experiments on four arrays or 96 arrays, dubbed the PamStation 4 and PamStation 96, respectively, but Jordan said that the company, which contracts out its manufacturing, was able to design throughput levels to meet the needs of its clients.

"Array diagnostics still have some difficulty getting into the marketplace due to a lot of competition from RT-PCR."

Innogenetics does not have exclusive rights to the PS-12, however. Innogenetics "has rights to the PS12 in the diagnostics area while PamGene addresses the academic and pharma/biotech research segment," PamGene CEO Tim Kievits wrote to BioArray News in an email this week.

Innogenetics did not return an e-mail seeking comment by press time.

Jordan said that the deal with Innogenetics is significant for PamGene's three-dimensional array technology in the diagnostic arena.

"Array diagnostics still have some difficulty getting into the marketplace due to a lot of competition from RT-PCR," he said. He added that PamGene's 3D array technology is not yet "mainstream" due to "a lack of high-profile collaborations and papers."

Like some other arrays, PamGene's PamChip microarrays are built to the format of a 1x3-inch microscope glass slide. However, the slips are made of plastic laminate sandwiching a porous metal oxide that contains four array areas on which as many as 400 three-dimensional spots of oligonucleotides, proteins, peptides, or DNA-fragments are spotted by ink jet.

So, instead of being contained on a surface, molecules cleave to the insides of capillaries within the metal oxide, allowing hybridization while the sample flows through the capillaries.

Though Jordan said that the 3D array technology has yet to be embraced by the diagnostics community, there are signals that its applicability in the clinical and drug-discovery arenas is gaining traction.

Two weeks ago, for example, the company reported that Johnson & Johnson will further implement its array-based biochemical kinase activity-profiling and cellular-inhibition assays in its research and development programs following an initial evaluation (see BAN 3/14/2006).

Also, PamGene partner Olympus said in June 2005 that it has signed an agreement with Cangen Biotechnologies, an American molecular diagnostics company, to develop and begin selling a microarray-based diagnostic for early-stage lung cancer (see BAN 6/1/2005).

PamGene helped Olympus develop its 3D microarray three years ago, and Yasuchi Iuchi, a spokesperson for the Japanese optics giant, told BioArray News at the time that it is "one of the candidates" for the DNA portion of Cangen's test.

Richard Silfen, president of Rockville, Md.-based Cangen, told BioArray News that the company expected to start clinical trials on the platform this year.

— Justin Petrone ([email protected])

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