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Molecular Dynamics, Amersham Add Three New Partners to Microarray Tech Program

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SUNNYVALE, Calif.--Molecular Dynamics here and Amersham Pharmacia Biotech have announced new collaborations with three research organizations that will continue development of the bioinformatics-optimized microarray technologies that the companies created and market together. The new participants in the firms' Microarray Technology Access Program include the University of Washington; pharmaceutical company Rhone-Poulenc Rorer; and toxicology, testing, and bioinformatics company Phase-1 Molecular Technology.

All three of the new partners will provide technical expertise to the program, while gaining early access to integrated microarray systems jointly developed by Molecular Dynamics and Amersham. In addition, Rhone-Poulenc and Phase-1 will provide funding for the program.

The three organizations will be designated "strategic collaborators," based on the expertise and high-value data they bring to the program, Molecular Dynamics said. Each will have a slightly different role. Rhone-Poulenc will receive instrumentation and software from Molecular Dynamics and reagents and consumables from Amersham that will enable researchers to measure the expression levels of many genes in a single experiment. The university will get microarray fabrication, hybridization, and optical scanning instrumentation and software from Molecular Dynamics, and also get matched reagents and consumables from Amersham.

Phase-1's involvement goes farther. It will receive the same components as the university, but will also contribute biological materials and intends to work with Molecu lar Dynamics to design and develop a range of cDNA-spotted microarray slides that will help pharmaceutical companies streamline the drug discovery process. The prearrayed slides, to be known as ToxArray, will be manufactured by Molecular Dynamics and offered on a preferential basis to other participants in the program.

The Microarray Technology Access Program was created in 1996 to give selected companies preferential access to precommercial technology from the Molecular Dynamics-Amersham partnership. Since then the program has enrolled over a dozen pharmaceutical, biotech, and research participants.

Commenting on his institution's participation, the University of Washington's Leroy Hood noted, "The integrated microarray systems being developed by Molecu lar Dynamics and Amer sham Pharmacia will help the University of Washington continue to pioneer advances in the fields of cancer research, bioinformatics, and biomedical science." Officials from the two companies commented that the addition of new participants to the program "underscores both the validity of our collaborative approach and the potential of this technology to significantly advance the genomics revolution."

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