Affymetrix

Company Background

Affymetrix's GeneChip® technology was invented in the late 1980's by a team of scientists led by Dr. Stephen P.A. Fodor. After pioneering the microarray technology, Affymetrix began operating independently in 1992. Affymetrix is evolving into a provider of scalable, innovative genomic analysis tools and reagents for discovery, exploration, validation, and genetic testing. The company completed its initial public offering in June 1996 (1).   Affymetrix is headquartered in Santa Clara, California and has manufacturing facilities in Santa Clara, Cleveland, Ohio, and Singapore. The company has about 900 employees worldwide and maintains sales and distribution operations across Europe, Asia, and Latin America (3). 

Suppliers and Buyers

Affymetrix collaborates with a number of instrumentation and reagent companies, including Beckman Coulter, CapitalBio Corporation, Genisphere LLC, Life Technologies Corporation, Luminex Corporation, Siemens Medical Solutions Diagnostics, Takara Bio Inc., New England Biolabs, Inc. and Qiagen GmbH. Some of these collaborators, like Life Technologies Corporation, Takara Bio Inc., New England Biolabs, Inc. and Luminex Corporation, are currently sole suppliers of components of some of their reagent kits but they are also their competitors.  Affymetrix outsources the manufacturing of their instruments to a limited number of suppliers (5).

The company's customers include pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agrichemical, diagnostics, and consumer products companies, as well as, academic, government, and other non-profit research institutes (1).

Strategic Partnerships

Affymetrix has partnerships and licensing agreements with pharmaceutical companies such as Life Technologies and Roche to develop new disease diagnostics and instrumentation systems.  The company hopes to benefit from an exclusive worldwide distribution agreement entered in 2012 with privately held ScreenCell to distribute ScreenCell's products for collecting circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in peripheral blood in combination with its own QuantiGene ViewRNA assays. In 2011 Affymetrix's diversification strategy led it to acquire private California firm eBioscience for around $315 million. The purchase of eBioscience added flow cytometry and immunoassay reagents for post-genomic testing in areas such as oncology and immune system health, with applications in both diagnostic and research areas.  Affymetrix also entered into a distribution agreement with Thermo Fisher Scientific in 2010; Thermo Fisher markets Affymetrix' GeneAtlas personal microarray system, a low-cost option for laboratory research (2).

In 2008, Affymetrix acquired Panomics, another life science company established in 2000 in Fremont, California. Panomics, formerly named Genospectra, offered a platform of reagents and products that enabled the multiplex measurement of molecular events, such as intracellular pathway analysis, cell signaling and gene expression profiling, in a quantitative and scalable manner (6).

Affymetrix was one of the industry participants in the Technology Convergence Consortium (TC2) formed in the Silicon Valley area to help develop business opportunities and create more jobs at the intersection of information, biochemical, and nanotechnologies in May 2004 (7).

Innovation and Technology

Affymetrix and Genisphere Inc. have a solution for microRNA (miRNA) research studies that encompasses assay, array, and software. The solution offers comprehensive miRNA coverage for 71 organisms on a single array. Covered species include human, mouse, rat, canine, and monkey - all of which are critical models for pharmaceutical and academic scientists working in oncology, stem cell research, toxicology, neuroscience, infectious disease, and many other areas.  miRNAs are emerging as a major component in the regulation of gene expression. Their main function is to down-regulate expression by binding to and modulating the translation of specific mRNAs. With the Affymetrix® miRNA solution, researchers can compare expression profiles across tissues and cell samples to gain insight into the role that miRNAs play in various biological processes, such as development, differentiation, viral infection, apoptosis, and oncogenesis.  By using gene analysis tools from Affymetrix, researchers can integrate data generated from gene expression and genotyping studies with their miRNA data (4).

Affymetrix, Inc. and Leica Microsystems are collaborating by using Affymetrix’ QuantiGene® ViewRNA ISH Tissue Assay on the Leica BOND RX staining platform for research applications. This partnership provides researchers with a powerful automated everyday solution for drug-discovery, translational research, and the development of new companion diagnostic tests for personalized medicine by significantly reducing assay time for single-copy RNA in situ hybridization (ISH) analysis.  The highly-sensitive QuantiGene® ViewRNA ISH Tissue Assay assists drug discovery and translation research by enabling researchers to measure RNA expression directly in a tissue section at single-copy sensitivity. Over one thousand standard probes are already available and it only takes a few days to produce a customized probe for a new gene target. The Leica BOND RX system automates the staining process bringing all the benefits of consistency, reduced labor, and speed. This means researchers can now have access to same-day assay completion and, with a standardized staining protocol, rapid set-up for any probe (3).

Products

  • GeneAtlas System (personal microarray solution for whole genome interrogation)
  • GeneChip Command Console Software (instrument and data control)
  • GeneChip CustomSeq and MyGeneChip (customized array development services)
  • GeneChip Instruments (hybridization oven, fluidics station, laser scanner, autoloader)
  • GeneChip Reagents and Assays (expression analysis and DNA analysis arrays including genome expression, cytogenetics, genotyping)
  • GeneTitan Instrument System
  • PathChip gene expression array (2).

See the Affymetrix headquarters location page for more information.

Sources

  1. Affymetrix, Inc. (2012).  “About Affymetrix.” Retrieved October 23, 2012 from www.affymetrix.com/estore/about_affymetrix/index.affx;jsessionid=29713AE8CE971E2669A4FBD45FDB823D#1_1
  2. Hoover’s, Inc. (2012). “Affymetrix, Inc.” Retrieved October 23, 2012.
  3. Affymetrix Inc. (2012, May 31). “Affymetrix and Leica Microsystems Announce Worldwide Collaboration on Automated, Single-Copy, RNA In Situ Hybridization (ISH) Tissue Assay for Research Use.” Retrieved October 23, 2012 from http://investor.affymetrix.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=116408&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1701062&highlight=
  4. AZoNano (2009, March 16). “Affymetrix and Genisphere Announce Launch of New, Best-in-Class Solution for microRNA Research Studies.” Retrieved October 23, 2012 from   www.azonano.com/news.aspx?newsID=10408
  5. Affymetrix Inc. (2011, December 31).  Affymetrix Form 10-K. Retrieved October 23, 2012 from www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/913077/000091307712000013/form10-k.htm
  6. Panomics, Inc. (2008, November 11). "Affymetrix to Acquire Panomics." Retrieved November 1, 2012 from www.panomics.com/downloads/Panomics_Affy.pdf
  7. JointVenture.org (2004, May 6). Retrieved April 10, 2013 from www.jointventure.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=352:re...