GE has confirmed rumours that the CodeLink array franchise will be scrapped during 2007 closing its Tempe facility. According to a spokesperson for GE, production of their pre-array slides will stop in April 2007 and they will be taking last orders from customers in February. The company will continue to produce blank slides for customers able to print their own arrays.
Talking to LabTechnologist.com she said: "It is a regrettable decision, which was not taken lightly; over the last two years we have tried to make a go of the business."
"There will be a limited number of staff redundancies to which we will offer all possible help; another major concern is what happens to our customers, we want to make sure they are supported as much as possible."
The CodeLink array had rated very highly alongside offerings from Affymetrix, Agilent, Applied Biosystems and Illumina in a recent Microarray Quality Control consortium report published in Nature Biotechnology. The high cost of production of the chips meant GE was unable to grow the business sufficiently to make it a commercially viable operation.
In a statement to LabTechnologist.com, Brian McKaig, GE Healthcare public relations manager, said: "Following a detailed business review, GE Healthcare has decided to discontinue its CodeLink microarray product line. GE Healthcare will cease production of CodeLink microarrays in April 2007, and will work to support customers' transition to alternative systems."
McKaig continued: "While we had hoped that the CodeLink franchise would be more successful, our decision to discontinue this business in no way diminishes GE Healthcare's commitment to Life Sciences research. We continue to invest in and deliver new products that will address customer needs in this area."
Agilent Expands Service Provider Network
The timing of the announcement is perhaps surprising considering that Stuart Matlow, Life Sciences & Chemical Analysis PR for Agilent, told LabTechnologist.com that he believes that the DNA microarray sector has grown approximately 12 per cent in 2006.
The expanding usage of DNA microarray technologies is evidenced by the growth of Agilent's Microarray Service Provider Network, which gives customers access to certified genomics research capabilities if they do not have the capabilities in-house.
Matlow said: "Support of all our customers is a very big part of what we do - we try to offer the complete package."
The main application of DNA microarrays is typically in gene expression - determining which genes are switched on or off; however Matlow believes that growth in this area is tailing off. There is however a new generation of smaller applications that show rapid growth, such as comprehensive genomic hybridisation (CGH); a method of identifying and mapping DNA sequence differences between normal and tumour cells.
These new techniques often need specific arrays to be designed that are uneconomical to produce using common lithographic manufacturing techniques. Agilent's unique SurePrint system uses an inkjet-like process to deposit protein strands directly onto the slide allowing the cheaper production of small numbers of specific arrays.
Matlow said: "With our SurePrint system it's now feasible to make a small number of slides to suit our customers specific needs."