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UTHSCH is Tenth Early-Access Customer for Wafergen SmartChip Platform

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Wafergen said this week that the University of Texas, Health Science Center at Houston is an early-access customer for the company's SmartChip real-time PCR system, currently under development.

UTHSCH is the tenth academic institution or company that Wafergen has disclosed as an early-access customer for the system.

Other early-access customers include Ghent University, Stanford University, the University of California-San Francisco, University of Pittsburgh, University of Southern California, University of Texas-Southwestern, two undisclosed Japanese organizations, and an undisclosed US biotech company.

The company has also collaborated with Duke University on SmartChip projects, but has not specifically named that institution as an early-access customer.

Wafergen has been aiming to commercially launch the SmartChip system, which comprises consumable SmartChips, a nanodispenser, and thermal cycler for multiplex PCR-based gene expression assays, in the second half of this year.

However, Wafergen said last month that its current available funds will finance operations only through June of this year, following a 39 percent drop in revenues and 26 percent increase in net loss in 2009 (PCR Insider, 4/29/2010).

In the meantime, Wafergen has been forging partnerships with a variety of academic institutions and companies to gain feedback on SmartChip prior to its launch and to generate revenues through sales of SmartChip consumables. It has also been offering contract gene expression profiling services.

"The addition of the University of Texas … reinforces [SmartChip's] potential as a tool to improve gene expression analysis and genotyping in order to provide a better understanding of disease at the molecular level," Alnoor Shivji, chairman and CEO of Wafergen, said in a statement.

"While anticipating the commercialization of SmartChip later this year, we are simultaneously implementing our strategy to generate revenue through our early-access program," Shivji added.

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