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Panomics' 2010 Agenda Includes New Kits for CNV Analysis, FFPE Sample Profiling

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By Justin Petrone

This article was originally posted on January 8.

A year after Affymetrix acquired it, Panomics is rolling out several new products this year and is working to coordinate its sales and marketing efforts with Affy's activities, according to a company official.

George Bers, executive vice president of commercial operations forthe firm's Panomics brand, told BioArray News this week that the Fremont, Calif.-based Affy business is in the process of launching new QuantiGene kits for a number of applications, including copy-number analysis and surveying formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples.

Founded in 2000 as Genospectra and rechristened as Panomics in 2006, the company sells a variety of kits for running low-to-midplex assays to study gene, protein, and cellular function. One of its lead product lines, QuantiGene, is based on branched DNA technology and enables customers to conduct quantitative gene-expression analysis.

Currently, Panomics sells QuantiGene kits for the profiling of RNA and DNA, as well as a QuantiGene viewRNA kit for the in situ analysis of RNA. Bers said that Panomics will soon launch QuantiGene kits for CNV analysis and in situ analysis of RNA from FFPE samples.

"Our QuantiGene singleplex and multiplex DNA copy-number assays are just coming out of development and being introduced as we speak," Bers said via e-mail. According to Bers, the kits allow users to "simultaneously quantify up to 34 genes directly in animal and plant lysates."

The new assay permits "accurate quantification and discrimination of single copy number differences from zero to four DNA copies and from less than 200 nanograms of genomic DNA directly from the sample of interest without DNA extraction or amplification," he said of the new products.

In general, Bers said that Panomics' single-plex QuantiGene kits are being used by customers screening siRNA libraries and monitoring siRNA or antisense knockdowns. QuantiGene Plex kits, meantime, are "selling well, especially for use in primary and secondary compound screening, preclinical [toxicology], biomarker studies, and for validation of discoveries from Affymetrix chips," he said.

Panomics also recently introduced a QuantiGene ViewRNA kit for FFPE tissues. "This is a single-plex colormetric-fluorescent assay able to detect less than 10 molecules per cell within the tissue sample," Bers said. "We are excited about the prospects for this product as we go into 2010."

ViewRNA for other sample types was launched last year and allows the detection of single RNA molecules in single cells. Bers said the demand for viewRNA in its first year has been "very high.

"There's strong interest in QuantiGene View … because expressed genes can be quantified in drug-treated cells in their 'native state' without recombinant manipulation," Bers said.

He said the new version to detect genes in FFPE tissues is "generating strong interest from those working in drug discovery and development and pathology, medicine, oncology, and central nervous system sciences." The company views the assays as a "practical alternative to immunohistochemistry where antibodies are either unavailable or unworkable in the experimental system under investigation," he said.

While Bers said that Panomics' products are selling "extremely well," Affy has not publicly discussed financial data for the business since it disclosed Panomics' financials last year for the first nine months of 2008 and full-year 2007 in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (see BAN 2/24/2009).

According to that filing, Panomics would have added $10.7 million to Affy's top line for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2008, had it been part of the array company for that time. The results also showed that Panomics would have added $11 million to Affy's top line in fiscal year 2007. Affy reported total sales of $331.7 million in the first nine months of 2008 and $371.3 million in all of 2007.

Affy said at the time that it expected Panomics' 2009 revenues to be "four or five times" greater than what it recorded in 2008. In subsequent conference calls, the company has declined to break out Panomics earnings because the business is sharing resources within the company (see BAN 10/27/2009).

Combining Resources

According to Bers, Affy's integration of Panomics has had a positive effect on its sales and marketing efforts. He said the companies' two teams have been "working cooperatively for the last year in terms of presentations to customers and lead sharing, collaborating at tradeshows, and in the production of marketing collateral."

The thrust of these efforts is to provide Affy's research customers with Panomics kits for validation and routine testing. Panomics customers, in turn, may be encouraged to use Affy chips for the first time upon completion of their validation projects and initiation of a new discovery and exploration project, Bers said.

"Customers like Diogenix, Medarex, Takeda, and Wyeth … who buy microarrays are discovering differentially expressed genes associated with their biological investigations, which could relate to drug response, a potential target for a new drug, or a signature associated with a disease that could eventually be translated into a companion diagnostic test," he said.

"Once they make those discoveries they have to go through a series of filtering or complexity-reduction steps as part of the validation and verification process of those genes. We enable them to do that," he added.

Bers believes that combining sales and marketing resources has "clearly benefited" the mutual selling of company products across Affy's portfolio. "It’s a well-conceived strategy to provide a continuum of solutions to customers starting from exploration to discovery to validation and ultimately converting those discoveries into routine tests," he said.

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