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BioDiscovery Inks Bundling Deal for aCGH Software; Will Launch New System in April

Eying array-based comparative genomic hybridization as the next big growth opportunity in the microarray-analysis software market, BioDiscovery has signed its first bundling agreement with an array-CGH provider, and in April plans to launch a new data-management product that will integrate CGH and gene-expression data.
This week, the company announced that it had signed an alliance with Empire Genomics under which Empire will market BioDiscovery’s ImaGene aCGH software along with its own array-CGH chips.
BioDiscovery CEO Soheil Shams told BioInform this week that the company is also preparing to introduce an enterprise data-management platform called Array Results Manager at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in April.
Shams said that the company has installed ARM at several cancer centers already, but hasn’t formally announced its launch yet. The official release in April will include a module to enable researchers to integrate CGH and expression results, “which is where I think a lot of oncology research is going to go,” he said.
BioDiscovery was founded in 1997, “so we’re pretty familiar with the microarray market, and I see CGH growing faster than expression because with gene expression, you’re measuring a dynamic phenomenon,” Shams said. “Here’s it’s the actual DNA — it’s more of a static measurement, kind of like a SNP,” Shams said. “So I think it’s a lot better from a software perspective in that it doesn’t have a lot of the ambiguities that gene expression does.”
Shams said that BioDiscovery first “tiptoed” into the CGH area around four years ago, but determined that the market — while promising — was still too immature at that time. After a “hibernation” period, the company began developing the CGH capability again and last October launched its first CGH module, ImaGene aCGH, as part of its ImaGene 7.0 microarray analysis platform.
“We went for a few years with the existing lineup of products, and in the background we’ve been developing a lot of new things that are just coming out,” he said.

“We went for a few years with the existing lineup of products, and in the background we’ve been developing a lot of new things that are just coming out.”

BioDiscovery is also looking to expand its analysis capabilities into other emerging areas of microarray analysis, such as methylation and SNP arrays, but Shams said the company felt that CGH was the best short-term target because it is important in the oncology research market, where the company has a strong customer base. 
“Right now, I think it’s a good vacuum because there are hardly any commercial players in this space,” he said.
Other software firms have also been expanding beyond their core gene-expression offerings. Agilent, for example, offers Agilent CGH Analytics and Agilent Chip Analytics for chromatin immunoprecipitation-on-chip data, while Stratagene has released ArrayAssist Exon and ArrayAssist Copy Number.
Shams noted that BioDiscovery intends to differentiate itself by enabling researchers to integrate various flavors of microarray data. “There are niches out there that some of these vendors have gone into, but trying to put the platform together to integrate all of these different domains is actually quite difficult. You can’t just do it in a desktop type of an application,” he said.
“Since we’ve built this on top of seven years of development in the enterprise area with GeneDirector, it’s easy for us to keep adding these other modules for methylation and for SNPs,” he said.

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