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Toshiba Enters Biochip Market With Novel Chip to Manage Hepatitis C

NEW YORK, Oct. 18 – Toshiba has entered the biochip arena by developing a DNA chip that it says can help researchers develop individual treatments for patients with hepatitis C, the company said on Thursday. 

The company said it planned to start marketing its pilot SNP-detection chip in fiscal 2002, which kicks off in April. 

Toshiba said the new chip, developed with the GeneCare Research Institute, is designed to help predict the effectiveness of interferon in individual patients. The company also and will help identify of more beneficial treatment regimes. 

Hepatitis C attacks the liver and infects roughly two million people in Japan and 170 million worldwide, according to Toshiba. The disease is chronic and can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. 

The teatment record for interferon, a standard treatment for the disease, has ranged from highly efficacious to downright dangerous, outcomes that are tied to specific doses of the drug. Toshiba said its biochip will help indicate progressive doses of interferon for patients who responded well to it. 

DNA chips have not become a widely used diagnostic tool because they require large and expensive equipment. But the current method for detection, for which Toshiba holds fundamental patents, will allow a small system to be created and used at a lower cost, the company said.