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New Zyomyx CEO Robert Monaghan Plans to Drive the Protein Biochip Company to Market

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Robert Monaghan, the new CEO of Zyomyx, wants to transform the protein biochip company into a real commercial organization.

Yes, the company already has a protein profiling biochip system on the market: The system, which can process 12 chips at once and includes a scanner and data-analysis software, was launched in February, along with a human cytokine profiling chip. Zyomyx also has customers, including Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline, and Partners Healthcare

But, “the weakness of the company is, obviously it hasn't put in the strong commercial operation and support that is required for our customers,” Monaghan said.

“Can we support our customers today? Absolutely we can,” he added. “But we really don't have the right number of people on the street to actually promote our product and take it to our customers.”

To address this issue, Monaghan is planning to hire eight to 10 people in sales, marketing, and technical support, including a vice president of sales. He also brings to the job “a lot of commercialization experience, “ he said. Monaghan, who replaces Lawrence Cohen as CEO, most recently served as president of Sigma Diagnostics and supervised the sale of the company in 2002. He also has held executive, business development, and sales management jobs at Dade Behring, Behring Diagnostics, SYVA, a division of Syntex pharmaceuticals; Ciba Corning Diagnostics, Health Charge Corporation, hospital finance consulting group Amherst Associates, and the American Hospital Supply Corporation.

Cohen has been named vice chairman, and will continue to work full time at the Hayward, Calif.-based company. “Larry has done a superior job of getting us up here and getting the commercial products on,” Monaghan said,

Now, “our direction here is to continue on the science and the quality of the product and to increase our visibility in the marketplace to make this a better commercial success,” Monaghan said.

The company is planning to launch a new product in the coming months.

In the longer term, Zyomyx has its eyes on the area of functional proteomics and small molecule-protein interaction, according to Peter Wagner, the company's CTO.

Zyomyx has already made inroads into the IP surrounding this area, with a patent granted earlier this week, Wagner said. While Zyomyx's other patents cover the general shape and function of its chips, Wagner said this new patent, US Patent No. 6,576,478, is important in the functional proteomics area because it covers a bioanalytical system based on closed microchannels. Any experiment that asks what a protein does, or how it interacts iwth other proteins or small molecules, “needs to be done in closed compartments of devices, so you can inject liquid, and you can measure, and you can check those liquids, and a channel intrinsically is a compartment that is preferably used for that,” Wagner said.

— MMJ

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