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Psychiatric Genomics, Ambion, Zyomyx, Genomic Solutions, Combimatrix, Gentel

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Psychiatric Genomics of Gaithersburg, Md., last week announced an agreement with the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (HBTRC) to collaborate on analysis of brain tissue in mental health disorder research.

The company, which creates small-molecule drugs to treat mental health disorders, will use microarray technology to measure patterns of gene expression in tissue samples that will include those from individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, a federally-funded agency that collects postmortem human brain tissue for medical research, will provide tissue extracts and receive raw data from microarray analysis to include in its national databank.

Ambion Gets $1.6 Million NIH Grant

Ambion of Austin, Texas, last week announced a $1.6 million Phase II SBIR grant from the NIH to continue developing RNA-amplification technology. The company said it intends to research ways to enhance enzymatic processes with the aim of improving DNA microarray results and integrating the processes onto robotic and microfluidic platforms.

Zyomyx Signs On GlaxoSmithKline For Protein Biochips

GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to be an early-access customer for Zyomyx’s line of protein biochips, Zyomyx said in a recent announcement. Zyomyx of Hayward, Calif., has developed biochips and a profiling system that permits researchers to track expression of 30 human cytokines in serum samples. According to the company, the system can be used in drug discovery, target validation, biomarker studies, and drug candidate evaluation.

The companies did not reveal financial details of the agreement. Specialty Laboratories, a clinical testing company, also has an early access agreement with Zyomyx.

Genomic Solutions Reports Q2 Revenue Rise, Decreased Loss, In Shadow Of Harvard Bio Merger

Microarray instrument maker Genomic Solutions of Ann Arbor, Mich., whose sale to Boston-based Harvard Bioscience is expected to close in the fourth quarter, announced increased revenues and a narrower net loss for its second quarter and its first six months of 2002. The company, in the midst of a restructuring, reported unaudited revenues of $6 million for the second quarter ending June 30, compared to $4.5 million for the year-ago quarter and revenues of $12.7 million for the six months, compared to $8.8 million for the same period last year. The company had a net loss of $2.4 million for the second quarter, compared to $2.9 million in the year ago quarter and a net loss of $4 million for the six months ended June 30, 2002, compared to a loss of $9 million for the same period last year.

Combimatrix Parent’s Revenues Plummet

Semiconductor biochip startup Combimatrix’s parent, Acacia Research, reported revenues of $438,000 for the second quarter, down from revenues over $10 million in the year ago quarter. Losses were $8.4 million for the quarter compared to $627,000 in the comparable period in 2001. The revenues all stemmed from CombiMatrix, a majority-owned subsidiary, the Newport Beach, Calif.-based company said. CombiMatrix has entered an accelerated development phase in its year-old relationship with Roche Applied Science to develop its DNA microarray technology, according to the company.

Acacia lost $10 million in licensing-fee income while increasing research and development expenses to $5 million from $2.6 million for the year-ago quarter. The company did not return calls for clarification on its licensing fee income.

Gentel Beta Tests Gold Biochip Substrates

GenTel of Madison, Wisc., is entering beta testing on its technology for manufacturing gold substrates on biochips, the company announced recently. The process, licensed from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, was originally created for internal use as part of the company’s research and development program in molecular computing.

The company is now preparing to place the technology in external research labs for testing purposes. “Because of the demand for high-quality substrates by biochip manufacturers, we are preparing to market them,” Bryce Nelson, GenTel’s chief scientific officer said in a statement.

The technology, the company says, allows biological molecules to attach in consistent orientation, maintain biological activity on the surface and yield results with label-free detection. Currently, it is in use for research in genotyping, DNA computing and virus detection.