Zymark develops hyb station
After 20 years in the laboratory automation business, Hopkinton, Mass.-based Zymark said it is developing its first instrument for the microarray industry – a high-throughput hybridization station.
The company jumped into this step of the microarray process when Johnson & Johnson approached it with “a need to do a large scale automation of its slide microarrays,” Mark Roskey, Zymark’s vice president for worldwide marketing, told BioArray News last week. “There are plenty of companies on the front end and many companies on the back end,” but “there wasn’t a lot in between,” Roskey said.
To address this problem, Johnson & Johnson has funded a R&D effort in which Zymark is developing an ultra high-throughput automated hybridization and wash station.
The working prototype involves cassette slide holders in which reagents are auto-injected. While Roskey would not say how many slides can be processed at a time, he did reveal that the development team has gotten the coefficient of variation down to the 3-5 percent range.
The company has initial plans to target the hybridization platform at the middle market between big pharmas that have already developed their automated hybridization systems and smaller academics that still do it by hand or are using low-end hyb stations.
But the hyb and wash unit is still a work-in-progress. Zymark has been “investigating partnerships” with more established players in the microarray space, and does not plan to commercialize the unit until 2003, Roskey said.
Gene Amplification Revenues Might Grow
A new study by Kalorama Information, an imprint of MarketResearch.com, predicts that applications and revenues for gene amplification techniques will grow. According to the study, entitled “Gene Amplification Technologies: End Users, Marketers, and Markets,” revenues from the top ten technologies are expected to increase by more than 50 percent within the next five years and surpass $1.6 billion in 2007. Furthermore, some technologies such as OmniPlex, SDA, LCR, and Hybrid Capture have caught up to PCR in generating significant revenues, the study says.
It also discusses trends in target versus signal amplification, isothermal versus cycling temperature, and exponential versus linear technologies, as well as the future of the field and the potential development of chip-based technologies.
Quark and Fujisawa to Co-Develop Drugs
Quark Biotech of Cleveland, Ohio, and Fujisawa Pharmaceutical of Japan said they will broaden their existing research collaboration, which started in 1999, beyond target discovery to co-develop drugs to treat stroke. Specifically, Quark is planning to develop assays for target proteins selected by both companies and to perform high-throughput screens against these using chemical libraries. In return, Fujisawa will increase its funding for Quark’s research.
Fujisawa has exclusive rights on any resulting products worldwide, while Quark has an option to co-market certain products in the United States and the European Union.
Quark recently acquired Incyte’s microarray business, hiring key personnel and moving Incyte’s facility out to its plant in Pleasanton, Calif.
Paradigm Genetics Posts Increased Losses, Lower Revenues
Paradigm Genetics reported increased losses and declining revenues for the second quarter of 2002. Net loss for the quarter was $5 million or $0.16 per share, compared to a net loss of $4.3 million or $0.16 per share in the same quarter of 2001.
Revenues fell by 13 percent to $5.3 million for the quarter from $6.1 million in the first quarter of 2001, a slump caused by a slowdown in Paradigm’s commercial partnership with Bayer. The company said this decline was partly offset by new revenues from its December 2001 purchase of the plant genomics firm ParaGen.
Including stock-based compensation expenses, the company spent $7.6 million on R&D in the quarter, up from $6.9 million in the second quarter last year. As of June 30, 2002, Paradigm held $9.6 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments. Earlier this spring, Paradigm laid off 20 percent of its workforce and replaced founder and CEO John Ryals with Syngenta executive Heinrich Gugger.
Paradigm, based in Research Triangle Park, NC, has co-developed an Arabidopsis genome array with Agilent Technologies, which the two companies launched this summer.