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Affy Hopes Pharma, New Platform Will Drive Growth

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Affymetrix reiterated its commitment to deliver on three main business priorities to reinvigorate its gene-expression and genotyping businesses after a year of sluggish sales attributed to declining demand for its array products amid weak pharma spending.

According to CEO Kevin King, Affy's three-pronged strategy includes targeting downstream genomicanalysis markets with the new products gained through its acquisitions of Panomics and True Materials last year; rolling out new genotyping assays on its GeneTitan array platform, and consolidating its manufacturing facilities.

"I would say that our strategy is in moving into spaces where pharma is spending probably more money or as much money as they have in the past, now that really is in drug development," King said. "We think we are positioning a portfolio of products to be in more of a sweet spot of where pharma needs to spend in drug development."

King made his remarks during Affy's fourth-quarter earnings call, where the Santa Clara, Calif.-based array vendor reported that its Q4 revenue declined 27 percent year over year and that it took an impairment charge of $239.1 million, leading to a large loss for the quarter and year.

Affy brought in revenues of $78.6 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2008, compared to $107.6 million for Q4 2007. The firm had cautioned in October that its fourth-quarter revenue would be essentially flat with its third-quarter revenues of $75.2 million.

During the call, Chief Financial Officer John Batty said that Affy's product revenue, which includes arrays, reagents, and instruments, fell 25 percent to $66.6 million in Q4, compared to $89.2 million in the year-ago period. Sales of arrays and reagents alone fell $17 million, while genotyping and expression sales declined 31 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Instrument sales declined by half during the quarter, Batty said.

Justin Petrone

Microarray Notes

Spokane, Wash.-based Signature Genomics Laboratories received accreditation from the American College of Pathologists, making it one of more than 6,000 labs in the US accredited by ACP.

Gentel Biosciences, based in Madison, Wis., will debut a new high-throughput microarray platform called APiX in June. APiX GlycoBiomarker Profiling Array Kit provides a method for multiplex profiling of glycan patterns on glycoproteins.

Cancer Research UK's Centre for Genetic Epidemiology, University of Cambridge, will use Fluidigm's EP1 system to identify and verify genetic variants that underlie susceptibility to various cancers, including colorectal, prostate, melanoma, breast, and ovarian.

Datapoint

0.5 Million
Ontario scientists predict that at least half a million different six-gene prognostic signatures Exist for predicting survival in non-small cell lung cancer, according to research published in PNAS.

Funded grants

$261,967/FY 2008
Collaborative Systems for Analyzing Tissue Microarrays
Grantee: David Foran, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Began: Jul. 1, 2005; Ends: Apr. 30, 2009
With this grant, Foran will create an automated tissue microarray analysis system. Collaborative work will develop the algorithms, computational tools, and technologies to image, analyze, archive, and share tissue microarrays, pathology specimens, and correlated data in a multi-user environment.

$277,883/FY 2008
Microarray Analysis of Olfactory Receptor Expression
Grantee: Stuart Firestein, Columbia University
Began: Apr. 1, 2004; Ends: Feb. 28, 2009
Firestein's team will extend its bioinformatics-based data-mining efforts into dynamic functional studies with a new custom-designed, high-density microarray that will allow monitoring of expression levels of all 1,200 olfactory receptor genes in mice simultaneously. This will allow them to look at dynamic gene expression and regulation on the genome-wide level.

The Scan

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A genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a human without triggering an immune response, Reuters reports.

For Privacy's Sake

Wired reports that more US states are passing genetic privacy laws.

Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.