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Protein Chip Update: Ciphergen Goes to China, Protometrix Gets a Prez

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As protein chips gain momentum, leader Ciphergen has begun marketing its chip-based instruments in China, and startup Protometrix has just signaled that it is ready for business in the US by hiring its first president.

Ciphergen sold its chip-based protein profiling systems to hospitals, universities, and government agencies in China, and has established a formal relationship with the Universities’ Confederated Institute for Proteomics, which the Chinese government established in May 2001, the company said last week.

“The Chinese government has publicly stated that it intends to foster proteomics research and China is therefore potentially a very significant market for Ciphergen,” William Rich, president and CEO of the Fremont, Calif.-based company, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Protometrix, of Guilford, Conn., named Holly Kleinert as its president, taking over from acting president and co-founder Mike Sherman. Kleinert comes to the 15-person company from a position overseeing the cardiovascular program at Searle.

“We wanted to find somebody with big pharma experience since they’re our most-likely clients, and we wanted someone who can relate best to their needs,” Sherman said in an interview with BioArray News’ sister publication GenomeWeb.

Protometrix has three facets: It performs high-throughput protein cloning, expression, and purification; it develops microarrays based on those clones; and it creates software that integrates and keeps track of data.

The technology around which the company is built recently squeezed 5,800 purified yeast proteins — nearly the organism’s entire proteome — onto a single microarray. According to Michael Snyder, the Yale scientist who co-developed it and co-founded Protometrix, the process took four years to create and is not yet on the market. Protometrix now can produce the array in about 10 days, and Sherman said that the company may soon be able to crank out a complete yeast protein chip “in a couple of days.” Doing one in an afternoon is not far off, he added.

— MMJ

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