A move to mid-plex

Affymetrix seeks broader markets via $73 million acquisition of Panomics

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SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Affymetrix Inc. recently entered a definitive agreement to acquire Panomics Inc.'s mid-plex assay products for protein and cellular analysis applications, including gene expression, gene modulation, protein expression and function, biomarker studies, and cellular delivery, analyzing both a single analyte and multiple analytes.

Affymetrix will pay approximately $73 million in cash to acquire Panomics. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2008, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

The Affymetrix and Panomics pieces fit together to provide a more complete customer workflow, says Rob Lipshutz, Affymetrix's senior VP, corporate development.

"Affymetrix is now able to offer our customers the full spectrum of genetics analysis needs. For example, for biomarker discovery and validation, customers can perform from genome-wide scan discovery with our original, high-plex GeneChip microarrays, to mid-plex array solutions with liquid arrays, to low-plex, high-throughput solutions with Panomics QuantiGene assays. With Affymetrix, customers can now partner with one supplier to perform genetics analysis studies analyzing 1.8 million markers, several hundred markers, or just a few."

The Panomics assays work on a broad range of sample types and offer a direct assay approach with high sensitivity and specificity. The assays do not require nucleic acid extraction or amplification, which streamlines customer workflows for applications such as gene expression, copy number and cytogenetics. For example, QuantiGene assays are ideal for use with difficult sample types such as FFPE or blood for gene expression analysis. Their products run on an installed base of more than 5,600 instruments worldwide, the company claims.

The Panomics acquisition will complement Affimetrix's recently acquired liquid array technology, enabling Affymetrix to address low to mid-plex genetic analysis requirements more effectively in the future. That acquisition, True Materials' Liquid Arrays, provided "a scalable, cost-effective platform for validating novel genomic changes identified by Affymetrix GeneChip arrays," Lipshutz notes. "This technology will be compatible with our next-generation scanners so that we can leverage our installed base. The technology is based on a novel, proprietary class of digitally encoded microparticles. It uniquely provides the powerful combination of high levels of multiplexing and high throughput, with the flexibility and reliability of liquid phase assays—liquid arrays. Liquid array technology has many applications in the life sciences, including clinical research, pharmaceutical development, bio-agriculture, and molecular diagnostics.

"Specifically, we are moving from an era in which we have been very strong in discovery and exploration towards one in which we will continue to grow there, but also explore more opportunities in validation and routine testing. Within the next five years, we expect the validation market to be worth around $1.5 billion and the routine testing market to be worth about $2 billion," Lipshutz states.

Today, Affymetrix technology is used by many of the world's top pharmaceutical, diagnostic and biotechnology companies, as well as academic, government and not-for-profit research institutes. More than 1,800 systems have been shipped around the world and more than 14,000 peer-reviewed papers have been published using the technology, the company claims. DDN

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