AUSTIN, Texas—Luminex Corp., a multiplex solution developer, has agreed to co-develop and commercialize microRNA products with Copenhagen-based Exiqon A/S, a supplier of high-value gene expression analysis products.
Financial terms were not released, but under the terms of the deal, Exiqon will develop and manufacture microRNA products on behalf of the Luminex Bioscience Group, based on Luminex's xMAP technology and Exiqon's Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) technology.
"Combining the ease-of-use and high multiplexing capacity of the Luminex xMAP platform with the high sensitivity and specificity of our LNA probes will result in a unique product offering," says Lars Kongsbak, president and CEO of Exiqon. "Luminex xMAP instruments hold a significant share of detection platforms in the life sciences industry in both the research and clinical settings. This collaboration will ensure our highly specific microRNA detection chemistries are broadly available to this market segment, which is an important strategic accomplishment for Exiqon."
Patrick J. Balthrop, Luminex president and CEO, agrees that his company's reach in the marketplace already is a huge boon to both companies moving forward.
"We announced in 2005 that we were going to be embarking on new R&D efforts through our Luminex Bioscience Group, well beyond our current R&D focus," Balthrop says. "We plan to work with Exiqon and other partners to really take advantage of the fact that we have 3,700 systems that we have shipped out over the years. That means access to instruments will be relatively straightforward for many researchers, and they won't necessarily have to buy a new piece of equipment to take advantage of what our microRNA product can do for them."
Assumed to have widespread effects on gene regulation, microRNAs have already been found to have important roles in several types of cancers and in processes involved in cellular differentiation, notes Randel S. Marfin, vice president of the Luminex Bioscience Group. LNAs are a class of nucleotide analogue that binds very strongly to RNA and DNA targets and by including LNAs in detection probes, it is possible to design very specific high-affinity detection assays for small RNA targets like microRNAs, he says—targets that otherwise would not be possible to reach using standard DNA-based detection probes.