Clinical Micro Sensors, Inc.
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Newly abundant genomic data is driving formation of all sorts of technology-based businesses. But markets for new tools are already chaotic and competitive, in part because customers know they've got many choices. Nanogen is in the thick of it. Pharmaceutical researchers weren't so interested in the firm's low-density gene chips, so the firm is now focusing on the clinical diagnostics market where managers believe flexible, accurate NanoChips will be better appreciated. The trouble is, the long-foretold market for molecular diagnostics still barely exists. On one hand, market immaturity spells opportunity for Nanogen as an early entrant, but it also means the company has to bushwhack a new path for its technology. It's not easy. For now, Nanogen is marketing its system to researchers in clinical diagnostic labs, university hospitals and government institutions-scientists at the cutting edge, who may become key content developers. The firm is also working to better serve drug makers. The company's customers display little loyalty yet: they're eager to try other new technologies too. Nanogen is betting that the superiority of its system will win hearts and minds as the market for molecular diagnostics takes shape.
Motorola is developing an expertise in microarray manufacturing to use as the jump-off point for a new life sciences initiative it hopes will turn into a high-margin, high-growth diagnostics business. It has spent $500 million in external investments to support the venture, including the $280 million acquisition of a clinical diagnostics start-up. But with its investors concerned with the recent downturn in demand in its core high-tech manufacturing businesses, the company is understandably reticent about touting the possibility of life sciences being its next big thing. On the other hand, should Motorola gain momentum and demonstrate an ability to tap the clinical diagnostics markets, the biochip initiative could ultimately become a broad-based point-of-care play, with the company drawing on its expertise in wireless communications to produce interactive handheld devices that would capture and transmit data to a remote site for analysis.
If there was one lesson from the bi-polar year of dealmaking in 2000 it was that dealmaking leverage lies with those with the power to either keep and profit from the status quo or remake it. Investors' understanding of Big Pharma's growth troubles encouraged near bio-hysteria among investors for genomics start-ups-but the interest had little staying power, particularly given the relative paucity of drug company discovery alliances. Much better performances came from smaller companies with later-stage products, in-licensing prices for which have now reached almost unsupportable levels. Diagnostics start-ups have likewise been hot as investors recognize that the nearest-term potential of genomics and proteomics technologies lies in disease markers as well as markers for drug function. But medical device dealmaking has been quiet. Start-ups have by and large been unable to show significant growth or the ability to substantially reshape medical device segments--leading to both quiescent acquisition markets and apathetic investors.
Incyte Genomics licensed its portfolio of proprietary gene sequences to Motorola's BioChip Systems division, which will use the information to make bioarrays for gene expression, SNP scoring, genotyping, and protein expression. In addition, Motorola software will enable users to click through to Incyte's Web site for the purchase of additional gene sequence information and reagents, a much-needed boost to Incyte's attempts to direct researchers to its Web-based genomics database.
In Vitro Diagnostics
- Other Names / Subsidiaries
- Osmetech Molecular Diagnostics