Primarily aimed at the independent sector specifically small biotech and pharma companies, the new original equipment manufacturing (OEM) business is intended to complement Mergen's own ExpressChip DNA microarray system. The ExpressChip and the OEM DNA microarray systems are simple-to-use, cost-effective tools for high-throughput, high-sensitivity gene expression profiling.
"We launched this system for researchers primarily wanting a fast and simpler process. We have been researching into this market for about a year where a gap was spotted, which allowed us to move up to a wholesale level," said Dr Jamie Love, Mergen's vice president of business development.
"Our clients now have several options. They can continue to buy Mergen's pre-printed ExpressChip arrays or ask Mergen to make custom arrays for their internal use or for resale," he said.
Mergen has also launched the Mergen ExpressService where gene expression profiles are generated from customer RNA. This strategy provides maximum flexibility to clients whether they are large pharma in need of specialty microarrays or small biotechs needing some gene expression data for research.
Love added: "While were not specifically aiming the OEM service at the drug discovery sector, we know that the requirements requested for these microarrays are suitable for the research and development of pharmaceutical applications."
"This service has been well received particularly by suppliers of biotechnology companies."
Mergen also offers oligo design and synthesis services but will also print oligos designed and synthesized by others. Mergen's manufacturing platform uses contact printing in batch mode assuring high quality spot features and consistency from array to array.
Amine-modified oligos are covalently linked to the polymer-coated slides. All manufacturing is conducted in an air-filtered cleanroom under dust-free conditions following SOP (Standard Operating Procedures). Hybridisation tests are conducted on representative arrays from each production run and the QC/QA procedures in place guarantee the customer will receive the highest quality arrays.
Mergen's LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) tacks oligos from plate to array such that data produced by any feature on any array can be traced. Although specializing in oligo-based microarrays, Mergen also custom prints cDNA, peptide and protein arrays.
Love commented: "To my knowledge, the OEM service is unique among the industry. The hybridisation service we offer in making these arrays, are all produced in-house."
"This sort of service enters a market which is definitely on the up. Regarding the manufacturing side we feel as though we have built up a growing reputation. In an environment where companies are scaling back and outsourcing services, our hybridisation service offers an effective compromise."
Love also said the original equipment manufacturing (OEM) service had gradually expanded over the course of three years. Prices vary and are dependent on customer requirements.