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Microarrays Are Still a Hit in Drug Discovery as Companies Schedule Third-Quarter Exhibits

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While the microarray industry is expanding the frontiers of this technology into agriculture, food safety, and even outer space, the platform remains closely linked to the challenges of drug discovery.

And you only have to look at attendance for two third-quarter trade shows — Drug Discovery Technology in Boston starting on Aug. 8, and Chips to Hits on Sept. 20-23, also in Boston — for an illustration (see chart, page 5.)

The two shows are organized by IBC Life Sciences of Westborough, Mass., as part of its drug discovery series.

Chips to Hits is, of course, the unofficial gathering spot for the microarray industry, and there are at least 70 companies listed as exhibitors for the end-of-the-third-quarter show.

Drug Discovery Technology has a smaller list of microarray companies exhibiting at a show that attracted some 6,000 attendees last year and nearly 400 exhibition booths, according to the show website.

This year’s show opens on Monday with a keynote by Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, followed on Tuesday by Mark Fishman, president of Novartis, and then Wednesday with David Baltimore, president of the California Institute of Technology.

Microarray companies exhibiting include the top-tier companies Affymetrix, Applied Biosystems, GE Healthcare, and Illumina, as well as Genetix, Luminex, MWG Biotech, and PamGene.

Other notable trade shows or meetings for the quarterinclude the just completed European Association of Cancer Research meeting in Innsbruck, Austria. The show drew both Affymetrix and Agilent Technologies, which announced that Geneva-based Institut Gustave-Roussy has earned certification to provide analysis services for its microarrays (see Briefs, page 9).

The American Association for Clinical Chemistry meeting in Los Angeles starting on July 25 has drawn Nanogen as well as Randox Laboratories, makers of competing microarray platforms and competing for acceptance in the clinical market. (For more on Randox’s efforts, see BAN 07/02/03).

The show also has attracted Motorola’s Clinical Micro Sensor, which is the entity marketing the remains of Motorola’s microarray efforts not sold to Amersham in 2002 — the e-sensor. The company is selling the eSensor DNA Detection System, which is described as being designed for simultaneous parallel analysis of up to 36 RNA or DNA targets and the eSensor 4800 Reader, which can analyze up to 48 cartridges at once.

CombiMatrix, the life sciences business of Acacia Research of Newport Beach, Calif., perhaps has one of the most eclectic show schedules for a company that has just released its first commercial product, a custom microarray with up to 12,000 probes. CombiMatrix will be at the American Society for Virology in Montreal on July 10; at Bio-MEMS and Nanotech World in Washington, DC, on August 16; and then staying over for Research Technologies and Applications in BioDefense, also in DC, starting Aug. 18.

Oxford Gene Technology (operations group) will exhibit in the UK on Aug. 1, at the Genomes to Systems conference in Manchester.

The species-specific conferences include Zebrafish Development and Genetics in Madison, Wis., starting on July 29, where NimbleGen Systems plans to exhibit; the Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology conference in Seattle on July 27, where Genetix is an exhibitor; and the International Conference on Arabidopsis Research in Berlin on July 11 with Affymetrix present.

— MOK