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Invitrogen Adapts Microarray Analysis Software for Affymetrix Product Package


SAN DIEGO, Calif.--Invitrogen, a maker of molecular biology research toolkits, entered the bioinformatics arena last week, inking a deal to provide Affymetrix with software to accompany its spotted DNA array systems. The deal was predicated on a technological collaboration that had been ongoing between two separate companies, Research Genetics and Genetic MicroSystems, which in February were acquired by Invitrogen and Affymetrix, respectively.


Invitrogen’s chief information officer, Brian Pollock, told BioInform that Research Genetics, a major supplier of custom synthetic DNA in Huntsville, Ala., and Genetic MicroSystems of Woburn, Mass., designed gene expression data analysis software called Pathways for use with Research
Genetics’ GeneFilters Microarray devices.


Built with open architecture and a Windows interface, Pathways analyzes images generated by Research Genetics’ microarrays. The software offers hyperlinks that users can click to access matching data in GenBank. For each spot that represents a gene, the software provides a link to relevant data at the US National Center for Biotechnology Information.


Invitrogen’s agreement with Affymetrix calls for the software to be adapted for use analyzing images of spotted arrays that are generated by Affymetrix’s 417 Arrayer and scanned with the 418 Array Scanner--technology that Affymetrix got through its acquisition of Genetic MicroSystems. Researchers use the instruments to make low-volumes of microarrays using both known and unknown genes.


The adapted software product, which Pollock said would enable Affymetrix to offer customers a “more integrated package,” will be called AffyPathways. Pollock said Affymetrix would retain a portion of revenues from its sales.


According to Lew Shuster, Invitrogen’s chief operating officer, “hundreds” of Invitrogen customers already use Pathways to analyze any of seven different human, rat, or other model organism filters that Research Genetics sells. According to the company website, the software sells for just under $3,000.


Shuster declined to reveal the value of the deal with Affymetrix, and said that he had not estimated the potential for Affymetrix sales of the software, and Affymetrix officials did not return calls from BioInform. But according to Affymterix’s quarterly earnings statement, the company had “an installed base” of more than 350 417 Arrayers and 418 Scanners. Pollock said he could “not even speculate” the value of the deal to Invitrogen, but called it “a good, longterm relationship” that would have a significant impact on Invitrogen’s Research Genetics subsidiary.


Pollock added that the company is working already on version 3.0 that he hopes Affymetrix and Invitrogen will be able to commercialize together.


--Adrienne Burke

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