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MetriGenix, Combining With Tm Bioscience, Unveils its Entry Into Universal Array Arena


MetriGenix of Gaithersburg, Md., has launched its attempt at a universal DNA expression analysis platform, combining its technology with the Tm 100 Universal Array made by Tm Bioscience of Toronto.

The 4D Assay System launched in December meets a product release deadline set by the two companies in April 2002.

This configuration applies Tm Bioscience’s universal DNA assay scheme onto MetriGenix’s flow-through chip for rapid analysis of DNA samples.

The chip is designed to run on MetriGenix’s $55,000 4D Assay gene expression analysis system, which consists of instrumentation, hybridization stations, and a scanner. Chips are bundled in a 10-piece kit that lists for $2,450.

For researchers, the product is the latest entry into the arena of universal microarrays, with competitors including Pamgene of the Netherlands and Agilix of New Haven, Conn.

MetriGenix, a spinoff from Gene Logic, will market the product indirectly, through distributors, in Europe and the Pacific Rim countries, and will sell it directly in the US, said Ralph Shober, a company spokesman. MetriGenix has a non-exclusive license to Tm’s array technology and will pay royalties based on sales.

The Technology

Tm Bioscience’s tag/anti-tag system is embedded in MetriGenix’s flow-through chip, a three-dimensional substrate filled with vertical microchannels. The universal array configuration consists of 100 separate complementary linear oligonucleotide pairs of tag and anti-tag primers. The anti-tags are attached to the inside of the microchannels, and the tags are attached to the target molecule during amplification.

The Metrigenix implementation will have 96 capture probes, each 22- to 25-mers in length. The company will synthesize the anti-tags and provide the oligonucleotides as well, said Shober.

The probes will consist of unique sequences determined by the researcher who orders them, and production time should be approximately four to six weeks, Shober said.

“The investigator will have to know what his probe sequences are and we will use our software to find the optimal combination of anti-tags,” he said.

MetriGenix’s licensing agreement also includes the Tm Bioscience 1000-probe universal array. Shober said the company will base future product decisions on that technology, according to how well the 100-probe assay is received, said Shober.

“The marketplace will tell us pretty quickly and we will react to that,” he said.

Tm Bioscience, which also licenses its technology to Luminex of San Diego, said it expects to have Tm 1000-based products for sale by at least two companies in 2003, said Jeremy Bridge-Cook, vice president of business development for the company. Tm also develops applications for use on its platform.

Pamgene, a Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, startup, also creates a flow-through array technology.

The market, said Tony Bartlett, Pamgene’s marketing vice president, so far, is hesitant about buying into new array technologies.

“I think there are opportunities for us and MetriGenix to work together to educate the market to the benefits,” he said. “There is a lack of trust out there, from a buyer’s perspective.”



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