Lumera is planning to roll out its NanoCapture HPT protein array platform during the first quarter of 2006, according to a company official.
Hélène Jaillet, Lumera's director of investor relations, told BioArray News last week that the Bothell, Wash.-based company is getting closer to commercializing the array, developed with heterodimer protein technology licensed from Helix Biopharma. If Lumera launches the chip on schedule, it will be the second of its three core array technologies to hit the market.
"We have not yet sold any sample-sized orders of that one as yet," Jaillet said. "[But] we are now working with the Institute of Systems Biology and we are also working with another institution that we haven't been able to disclose yet" to help develop the technology.
According to Jaillet, Lumera has already been providing the Seattle-based Institute for Systems Biology with its DNA array platform, the NanoCapture OH, and ISB has submitted a paper to Methods in Enzymology with results obtained by using the OH platform.
Another OH customer is a "large international company" according to a statement from Lumera. Jaillet did not name the company.
"It's not at the stage yet where you can pick up a catalog and say, 'Send me a thousand of these things,' but we are working with research institutions and universities to further customize and tweak the arrays so when they go out on the market they will be what the customer wants."
"We shipped a sample-sized order to a larger biotech company, and we are developing [the platform] for commercial use," explained Jaillet.
"It's not at the stage yet where you can pick up a catalogue and say, 'Send me a thousand of these things,' but we are working with research institutions and universities to further customize and tweak the arrays so when they go out on the market it will be what the customer wants," she said.
Lumera, founded in 2000, is not just an array company, but a polymer company, and it has built its various product lines off its polymer IP, commercializing technology for both communications and biotech.
It is that polymer IP that Jaillet said Lumera believes will make its arrays attractive to potential customers.
"Unlike some other chips, as I understand it, other [spots] end up pockmarked, whereas with ours, because of the hydrophilic [and] hydrophobic properties of the polymers that we use on the chip, you end up with very small spherical samples in the wells," Jaillet said. "That just makes it easier to analyze."
Lumera will also use its slide chemistry to distinguish its protein arrays in the marketplace, according to a statement the company made last week announcing its third quarter results (see sidebar).
The HPT chips, based on Helix Biopharma's technology, should "allow researchers to build biologically active, high-density protein arrays from simple, widely available cDNA libraries."
Furthermore, a special high-throughput protein array system, called the ProteinProcessor, which uses a 1,032 site Lumera protein array, is also being scheduled for commercialization, according to Jaillet.
Lumera Q3 Revenues More than Double
Lumera last week said that third-quarter revenues increased 133 percent to $681,000 from $292,000 for the same period in 2004. Around $624,000 of that figure was related to government contracts, Lumera said. Product-related revenue grew 46 percent, to $57,000 from $39,000 for the same period last year.
Lumera's also trimmed its net loss by 36 percent. Net loss was $2 million or $0.12 per share for the third quarter of 2005 compared to a net loss of $3.2 million or $0.24 per share in the same period in 2004.
Lumera ended the quarter with $23.6 million in cash and investment securities. The company did not report R&D expenditures.
With an eye on the drug-discovery market, the company plans to have two ProteinProcessors available for customer evaluation by the end of this quarter, she said.
The target market at first for Lumera will be more academic partners like ISB, or the University of Washington, which helped found the company five years ago (see >BAN 5/12/2004).
As the technology is optimized, Jaillet said Lumera will focus its marketing efforts on larger pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
"Initially it may be that [the ProteinProcessor] may be [better suited for] research institutions because to go to a Merck or a Pfizer, they want a machine where you push one button and it works," she said.
"At this stage, with the machine, you probably have to push three or four [buttons]. You'll probably have to do a little tinkering — the type of tinkering post-docs at a research institute are willing to do," said Jaillet. "Ultimately, when the machine is refined, and it gets to its full commercial goal capability — then we are talking big pharma, biotechs, et cetera."
Jaillet said that Lumera would be interested in partnering with "an Agilent or someone who is in the tool-making business and has a distribution channel in place" to distribute its products in the future, or may opt to manufacture and distribute the array line itself.
"We could go in either direction," she said.
A spokesperson for Agilent said the company "is generally open to exploring collaborations with other companies and academics to develop worthwhile life science solutions."
— Justin Petrone ([email protected])