Affymetrix, Leica to launch automated Dx/Rx research tool

Affymetrix ($AFFX) has sealed a deal with Leica Microsystems to automate a lab test intended, in part, to help boost development of new companion diagnostic tests.

Affymetrix makes DNA microarrays and diagnostics. Leica Microsystems, based in Wetzlar, Germany, develops microscopes and scientific instruments.

Neither side is disclosing financial terms of the global collaboration agreement. But the agreement calls for automating Affymetrix's QuantiGene ViewRNA in situ hybridization tissue assay on the Leica Bond Rx staining platform for research use. The combined product should launch by the third quarter of this year, according the announcement. Affymetrix's product lets researchers measure DNA expression at single copy sensitivity as Leica's product automates the staining process.

Beyond aiding in the developing of companion diagnostics tests, the companies say in their deal announcement that the joint effort will also help reduce assay time for single-copy RNA in situ hybridization analysis for drug discovery and translational research. In short, as George Bers, an Affymetrix vice president, explains, the combined effort is designed to accelerate the development of "important new drugs and the validation of novel companion tests."

Affymetrix has focused in recent months on boosting its diagnostics abilities. The company is paying $315 million for eBioscience, a maker of chemicals used for diagnostics and oncology research.

- read the release