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OGT CEO Cites 'Exceptional Demand' for Cyto Chips in Decision to Establish US Office

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Oxford Gene Technology has expanded its effort to serve its North American cytogenetic array customers by establishing an office near New York City and appointing a US-based sales team.

The UK-based clinical genetics company previously served its North American customers from its headquarters outside Oxford, but was moved to establish a direct presence in the US because of "exceptional demand" for its cyto chips, CEO Mike Evans told BioArray News this week.

Evans did not quantify this demand, but noted that the North American market "has been at the forefront of implementing microarray technology" for detecting genetic aberrations, citing recent American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics' recommendations that arrays be used as a first-tier test for the detection of constitutional abnormalities.

Evans also said that OGT's "longstanding partnerships" with the largely US-based International Collaboration for Clinical Genomics and the Cancer Cytogenomics Microarray Consortium have generated demand for the firm's arrays. ICCG, previously known as the International Standards for Cytogenomic Arrays consortium, recently changed its name to reflect its inclusion of sequencing users (BAN 10/23/2012).

"In order to satisfy market demand and to provide the best possible support to our growing customer base, the time was right to establish our North America office," said Evans.

OGT's decision to open an office in the US comes two months after its competitor in the cyto array market, Cambridge, UK-based BlueGnome, opened a logistics hub near Washington, DC (BAN 9/4/2012). Also in September, Illumina acquired BlueGnome to expand its position in the global cyto array market (BAN 9/25/2012).

OGT's US office is located in Tarrytown, NY, about 30 miles from downtown Manhattan. The firm's US team consists of three sales representatives and a field application support specialist, though Evans said OGT is still recruiting and is "projecting significant growth" in its North American array business in 2013.

Evans said that locating OGT's office near New York was an "obvious choice" because of its "excellent transport links," but noted it provides an additional benefit by offering "enhanced, out-of-hours support" for the firm's European customer base.

Founded on the patent estate of inventor Edwin Southern in 1995, OGT has in the past decade expanded to offer not only oligonucleotide array-based products and services, but tools and services for protein and single-cell analysis and next-generation sequencing.

The company continues to expand its CytoSure family of arrays for constitutional genetics, molecular genetics, and cancer cytogenetics, and in a statement called the cyto market a "strong growth area" where it is winning "increasing global market share."

In the same statement, the firm claimed to serve a potential clinical cytogenetics market of $400 million with "rapid future growth forecast."

Among OGT's CytoSure products are its menu of ISCA arrays, designed in collaboration with the ISCA consortium; its Hematological+SNP array for detecting copy number changes and loss of heterozygosity associated with hematological malignancies; and a number of other focused arrays. OGT also allows its users to design their own CytoSure chips and offers software and instrumentation for processing and analyzing the arrays. OGT's arrays are manufactured by Agilent Technologies.

In addition to its array offerings, OGT also provides its Genefficiency next-generation sequencing services, which it will also market and support via its New York-area office (BAN 12/20/2011).

Among OGT's CytoSure and Genefficiency customers are a "significant number" of accounts in academia, clinical laboratories, and commercial organizations. The firm also called the US the "world's largest cytogenetics market" and said that it is "critical to the development of OGT's clinical and genomic services business."

One customer, Madhuri Hegde from Emory University School of Medicine, said in a statement that Emory "looks forward to working with OGT's new local support team."

As for OGT's customers in other regional markets, Evans said that OGT continues to "monitor customer numbers and market conditions" in evaluating how to best serve them. While OGT has no firm plans to open additional offices, Evans noted that it is "still growing" in Europe, and has "immediate plans" to expand its European team with additional regional field-based staff.

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