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What Does the ASU Partnership Mean For CombiMatrix?

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Riding a wave of commercial activity that has included the founding of a molecular diagnostics subsidiary called CMD and the release of its CustomArray DNA Synthesizer, Mulkiteo, Wash.-based CombiMatrix last week announced its collaboration with the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University.

According to CEO Amit Kumar, the agreement allows the institute to use Combi's technology that enables users to synthesize their own custom polypeptide arrays, and the benefit to his company will be that the Biodesign Institute may emerge with a commercially-ready application that CombiMatrix can then capitalize on.

"We know that there's a value for peptide arrays and certainly for peptide array synthesizers, so we structured a deal where we would provide the technology and they would develop the synthesizer," he said.

When asked if a commercial application was likely, Kumar said "absolutely."

"We've demonstrated in the past that there are certain other things that you can do with our chips including making peptides, proteins, full proteins, RNAi, and things like that and ASU has some expertise in these areas as well," the CEO said.

"We don't have the resources at this time to do all of the development ourselves," he conceded. And according to Neal Woodbury, director of the Center for Bio-Optical Nanotechnology at the Biodesign Institute who will be using the technology to synthesize peptide arrays for a US Department of Energy-funded study, it will be ASU that does all of the development in creating that likely application.

Still, Kumar said that the work will be done on CombiMatrix's "platform and with the know-how that they will gain from working with [Combi]."

And although Woodbury told BioArray News that the Biodesign Institute has no commercial interest in the technology, as it is publicly funded, Kumar said that if they make any money off the project, ASU is likely to get a cut.

"It is a revenue sharing and royalty agreement, but the details will be for the time being not-public, so I can't talk about those, Kumar explained, "But it is structured that both [parties] will benefit should there be a commercial product."

— Justin Petrone ([email protected])

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