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Microarray marriage: PerkinElmer and Eppendorf to streamline microarray technology
BOSTON—Simplifying the use of microarrays and increasing the reproducibility of experiment results are two of the rationales behind a new co-marketing agreement that bundles Eppendorf's DualChip microarray slides and PerkinElmer's ScanArray GX microarray analysis system.
"The way I look at it," says Peter Baker, proteomics business unit leader at PerkinElmer Inc., "microarrays are an art form, and what we're trying to do with Eppendorf is make it into a science." Baker describes the DualChip-ScanArray GX package as "a turnkey solution for the customer for each of the products" and says the companies made a conscious effort to optimize user-friendliness in the equipment by making everything, particularly software, "as simple as possible."
Oliver Franz, senior marketing manager of PCR, detection, and microarrays at Eppendorf AG, sees reproducibility, standardization, and consistency of results as "still critical issues in the analysis of microarray experiments. Together with PerkinElmer we have addressed these issues by setting up scanning protocols optimized for the DualChip arrays." Although DualChip can be used with other fluorescence scanners, Franz called ScanArray GX and DualChip a "perfect match" thanks to "optimized protocols we have set up and the compatibility between the two technologies."
DualChip, says Franz, is unique in placing "two identical arrays on one slide, each with a set of control genes spotted in triplicate." This leads to reproducibility of results and increased speed of data analysis. Reducing false positives, he says, helps researchers produce more publishable data.
Eppendorf's focus on specific disease states rather than generic slides helped draw PerkinElmer to Eppendorf, says Baker. He describes ScanArray GX as "an entry-level two-laser model" that he says "can perform with genomic arrays, but they're specifically designed for protein arrays." It shows high sensitivity for being an entry-level model, according to Baker, and has an enhanced dynamic range.
Both companies hope to increase their market reach through the program, with Franz noting, "Since we offer a whole family of content arrays, different groups of researchers are targeted." Drug discovery and toxicology specialists, he says, "would probably benefit the most from our offering of theme arrays."
With PerkinElmer's current clients concentrated in academia, Baker sees the partnership as an opportunity to "further penetrate the clinical research market space" and enter another market segment. The collaboration also bears witness to changes in the industry. In today's research, says Baker, there is "still a large amount of researchers spotting their own slides, but there's an increasing amount of commercially available content."
PerkinElmer and Eppendorf announced their co-marketing agreement at the Chips to Hits industry event in Boston in mid-September. The worldwide agreement, which covers only DualChip and ScanArray GX, is the first formal collaboration between Eppendorf and PerkinElmer, says Franz, but "our field forces had been partially working together already" thanks to common accounts between the two companies' sales forces.