Applied Biosystems is gearing up to launch what it claims is the first gene expression analysis product that allows researchers to conduct studies on the entire human genome using a single microarray.
Gene expression analysis allows researchers to monitor the functional differences between normal and diseased and is a critical tool in understanding biological processes. Michael Hunkapillar, president of Applied Biosystems, said: "this will lead to significant advances in functional genomics research."
The Expression Array system contains probes for the 30 000-plus genes identified by genome maps from public sources and Applied Biosystem's sister company Celera Genomics. In addition to the microarray itself, the system includes Applied Biosystems' 1700 Chemiluminescent Microarray Analyser, software and reagents, and will ship with a database that includes gene acronyms and names, cross references for gene identification, gene ontologies and protein characterisation data from the Panther Protein Classification System.
The company claims that the system has been designed to allow researchers to use less biological samples in their experiments, as the product uses long (60-base pair) oligonucleotide probes, coupled with a chemiluminescent detection system, that allow greater selectivity and specificity than rival technologies. It is suitable for single-gene studies as well as whole genome analysis.
The Expression Array System is already being shipped to customer test sites and should be available for commercial release before the end of the year, according to Applied Biosystems. The company is also planning follow-up products that will incorporate the entire mouse and rat genomes.
Meantime, Applied Biosystems has reported turnover of $1.60 billion (€1.39bn) for the year ended 30 June 2003, 5 per cent above fiscal 2002 and in spite of the current lacklustre market for life sciences technologies. The company said that growth was driven by its recently-launched 3730 DNA Analyser line and new mass spectrometry products, although consumable took a downturn, with sales dipping 4 per cent to $575 million.
Earnings per share were $0.87, up from $0.78 in fiscal 2002, while net income rose 8.7 per cent to $183.2 million.