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Siemens Enters Genomic Market in Partnership to Develop Novel Diagnostic

NEW YORK, Nov. 2 – Siemens, the German electronics giant, and biotechnology company and countrymate november have announced plans to co-develop a novel DNA-based electrochemical diagnostic system and marking Siemens’ debut into genomics.

Terms of the agreement, originally announced in September, call for november to develop the biochemical and electrochemical methods while Medical Solutions, a Siemens business unit, will be responsible for the device itself. 

The system, called “lab on a strip,” will have applications in routine diagnostics such as identifying and characterizing pathogens in patient samples, profiling tumors, and detecting polymorphisms. 

The tool will have as many as 20 oligonucleotide-capture probes bound to carbon-based electrodes. And in contrast to most other DNA-based analysis systems, hybridization is measured not optically but electrochemically, which does not require DNA labeling, the firms said. 

“We detect electrochemical signals coming from the DNA hybridized on our electrode surface with sensitive electrochemical methods,” Joerg Hassmann, head of the electrohybridization team at Erlangen-based november, said in an interview. 

Hassmann said the technology, which currently involves a PCR-amplification step, will be inexpensive and capable of competing with standard immunological assays. He said the price for a test in dollars will be “a low double-digit number.” 

November hopes that the technology will be ready for licensing and clinical validation by 2003. The system will be marketed to clinical laboratories first but will be aimed at points of care later.

At least two other companies, Clinical Microsensors, a subsidiary of Motorola, and Xanthon, are also working on assay systems based on electrochemical detection of DNA hybridization.

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