CMM Gets New Tool, Contract

November 29, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Center for Molecular Medicine has signed an agreement to take on a number of projects for Massachusetts-based Xceed Molecular, including the investigation and development of cancer diagnostics and improved sample-preparation methods.

Xceed is a developer of gene-expression analysis systems that offers gene expression services and pre-configured arrays. The Center for Molecular Medicine is the first partner in what Xceed refers to as its “strategic collaborator program.” As part of the agreement, CCM will have use of Xceed’s Ziplex System at no cost. In turn, Xceed retains the right to access findings and biomarker content or assist with new product development or services that might come out of the collaboration.

As Xceed's first collaborator in the program, CMM will be the first U.S. facility to use the Ziplex System, giving its researchers yet another new tool in disease investigation and drug discovery. The automated Ziplex System is designed to perform complex molecular assays with a high level of accuracy and reproducibility and at significantly lower cost than other options, according to Xceed. It can test eight samples simultaneously with minimal hands-on time and a rapid turnaround.

“What we are doing with Xceed is twofold,” said Daniel Farkas, Ph.D., executive director of the center. “One, we are doing a demonstration project for them to show that their technology is equivalent to the gold standard in the field. Two, we’re giving them a venue in our clinical diagnostics laboratory to help develop clinical laboratory tests for the marketplace.”

One agreement with Xceed has been executed and a second still has to be negotiated regarding which disease the center will develop tests on for Xceed, Farkas noted. He said CMM is very pleased to support Xceed’s efforts in bringing its clinical laboratory-friendly Ziplex System to the marketplace.

“The CMM will provide Xceed the opportunity to bring new array-based tests to the clinical community,” he explained. “As translational medicine moves from the research laboratory to the clinic, technology that is affordable, reliable and automated will be critical. We believe the Ziplex System is uniquely positioned to fulfill this need.”

CMM is a joint venture between Spectrum Health and Van Andel Institute. The center conducts trials for diagnostics and pharmaceutical companies. It offers the latest molecular technologies for investigation into complex diseases such as cancer, heart disease, mental illness and other conditions at the DNA and RNA protein levels.

Farkas said the center currently has three contracts that have been executed and he expects five more will be executed by the end of the year. In addition to the Xceed agreement, the other two contracts executed are with California-based AviaraDx and with a branch of the National Institutes for Health. NIH us a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research.

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