AUSTIN, Texas—Ambion Inc., a provider of RNA analysis tools and reagents, recently announced it formalized a license and supply agreement with GE Healthcare whereby GE will manufacture for Ambion its mirVana line of microRNA (miRNA) microarrays using GE's CodeLink bioarray technology. The mirVana miRNA bioarrays include a comprehensive panel of known human, mouse and rat miRNAs as well as Ambion's proprietary, non-published microRNAs, Ambi-miRs.
According to Rod Klassy, business development manager for Ambion, the move to create a commercial supply of miRNA bioarrays comes as the company sees an awakening commercial market for these and associated microRNA products.
"MicroRNAs are relatively young in their biological discovery phase," says Klassy. "There's a lot of interest in them and we've noted that if you search the publication records you'll see a rapid increase in publications from 2003 where there were less than a couple dozen to 400 or 500 in 2005."
The announcement of the deal also comes as GE actively searches for ways it can broaden the use of its CodeLink bioarray technology. "This is a great example of how we can take CodeLink's proven technology into new application areas by partnersing with companies who are leaders in their field," says Ger Brophy, VP of product acquisition and licensing for Discovery Systems, GE Healthcare, in a statement announcing the Ambion deal. "The combination of CodeLink's array technology with Ambion's content and assays creates an innovative and powerful tool that meets the needs of this growing research market."
Indeed, Ambion is attempting to get out ahead of the pack. Long known as an RNA specialist —it has even trademarked the term "The RNA Company"—Ambion's management anticipates the awakening interest in the field will make its miRNA line a significant revenue stream in the coming years.
The decision to work with GE arose from work performed by Ambion researcher Dr. David Brown, who was doing self-spotting arrays. While using what were the CodeLink blanks, Brown and his team noticed that the arrays they were spotting on the GE slides were consistently better.
Once Ambion chose GE, researchers from both companies collaborated to make test slides using GE's spotting equipment as well as work with GE's informatics group for probe design.
Klassy also says using GE will help Ambion penetrate the miRNA research market quicker, in particular among academic researchers.