Genetic products maker Affymetrix Inc (AFFX) recently announced that it has entered into a global distribution agreement with ScreenCell, a medical devices company, which specializes in isolating rare circulatory cells. Under the agreement, Affymetrix will be the sole distributor of ScreenCell’s Circulatory Tumour Cells (“CTC”) Technology, to be used only for research purposes.
Affymetrix has launched the QuantiGene ViewRNA CTC Platform, which combines ScreenCell’s unique isolation devices with Affymetrix’s own QuantiGene ViewRNA in situ hybridization (“ISH”) assays to identify single RNA transcripts in single CTC and other rare cells with high precision. The company believes that this latest addition to the Expression business will revolutionize cancer treatment in a big way as it will enable quick and cost-effective translational research.
ScreenCell devices can also be used with a host of other assays such as microarray assays, ISH assays, GeneChip Microarray assays and QuantiGenePlex assays.
Privately-owned ScreenCell specializes in developing non-invasive technology for isolating rare circulating cells yielding free of any bias CTC population to be used for cancer monitoring.
Affymetrix is a leading provider of microarray-based products and services to the global research community. Along with Illumina Inc. (ILMN), it is one of the two major providers of microarray technologies, primarily used in the field of genetic research.
Affymetrix is expanding its customer base through new product launches and strategic alliances. Moreover, the company is pursuing a number of strategies (including expansion into new markets) aimed at expanding its top line.
Affymetrix is shifting its research and development (R&D) focus from discovery and exploration markets to the faster-growing validation and routine testing markets. The company reckons cytogenetics and cancer research as promising areas for expansion, representing market opportunities of roughly $200 million and $500 million, respectively.
However, Affymetrix is operating in an intensely competitive industry and faces risks associated with lower R&D spending by its customers due to a soft economy and government actions including budget cuts.
Affymetrix is exposed to a volatile funding environment. The company has been facing uncertainties surrounding National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) funding. Decline in government research grants may substantially affect the company’s revenues.
We currently have an Underperform rating on Affymetrix. The stock retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).


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