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Corning moves into DNA chip business

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CIOL Bureau
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The potential of identifying new human genes and drugs to fight genetic

diseases took a leap forward this week with the announcement by Corning that it

is moving into the market of making microarrays, also known as "DNA

chips" that are used to analyze thousands of genes simultaneously.

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Corning, a leader in the fiber optics cable market, is deploying a new

high-volume production technology that will speed current production of

microarrays by at least 10-fold. A microarray is a glass slide, measuring about

3 inches by 1 inch. Each slide can carry some 10,000 genes.

Market analysts forecast a huge demand for genetic information by

biotechnology companies, government and academic laboratories. Sales of such

data could swell from $250 million to $1 billion in the next five years. Corning

hopes to control as much as half of the microarray market, which is now led by

Affymetrix of Santa Clara.

"Our goal as a company is to be No. 1 or No. 2 in that market,'' said

Corning microarray technologies unit general manager Tom Hinman. Corning's

production process leverages the firm’s techniques used to create optical

fiber, ceramic honeycombs inside an automobile's smog-busting catalytic

converter and a micro-printing method of applying decorative patterns to

consumer cookware.

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"We recognized that several of our core competencies–including

advanced materials, surface technologies, and optics–could be brought together

to develop a new solution for DNA microarray production,'' said Corning senior

vice president of life sciences Pierce Baker. Baker said Corning will be able to

produce one microarray per minute, 10 to 20 times faster than manufacturing

techniques in use today, and thousands of them instead of fewer than 500 on each

production run.

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