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Trading their array of technology
OXFORD, U.K.—Oxford Gene Technology continues to grow the market for microarrays through its broad licensing of key microarray patents. In its latest move, the company and NimbleGen Systems have agreed to a transfer of technology that provides NimbleGen with a license to OGT's fundamental patents covering oligonucleotide arrays, and OGT access to NimbleGen's DNA microarrays for use in OGT's service business. NimbleGen will also be licensed to sell OGT's arrays.
"We chose to partner with NimbleGen due to their ability to make high quality, high-density arrays through in situ technology," say Sue Sutton, OGT's VP, licensing North America. OGT believes that in situ methods of array fabrication have several advantages over other methods, including the ability to rapidly design and fabricate custom arrays, and generation of high density arrays without the up-front costs of oligonucleotide purchase.
Dr. Stan Rose, NimbleGen president and CEO adds that the agreement "provides NimbleGen with access to important property rights, as well as an exciting new commercial relationship that should benefit both companies."
OGT estimates the current global market for microarrays, related instruments and software is about $800 million per year, with microarrays accounting for about 65 percent of the total. The company anticipates double digit growth over the next few years.
"Our recent North American license deals include agreements with major life science companies such as Agilent, Illumina and Invitrogen," Sutton notes. "We expect the recent supply deals with Agilent and NimbleGen to be particularly important for our microarray services and products business. OGT is now able to provide a broader-based service, advising our customers on the best microarray platform to choose for their application.
Our relationship with Agilent also includes the manufacture by Agilent of 'OEM' arrays designed by OGT that we will then sell to our customers."
OGT expects collaborative agreements to become a more important part of its business in the future. "OGT will focus on what it does best," CEO Mike Evans emphasizes, "array design and supply for our customers and development of novel array formats. As examples, our current development projects include multi-sample arrays for cost-effective biomarker validation and clinical diagnostics, and analysis of gene expression at the single cell level."
DNA microarrays can be used for many purposes, including comparisons of gene expression between different individuals – for example, a cancer sample and a control sample – that can lead to the identification of disease targets in pharmaceutical discovery programs. "Array-based comparative genome hybridization (CGH) can provide much more fine detail about genetic lesions than other methods such as karyotyping," Dr. Evans observes. "Other approaches using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or copy number variants (CNVs) as genetic markers to track the inheritance of disease-causing genes through populations are increasingly being used in drug target discovery as well as in profiling clinical trials populations in the drug development phase."