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Japan firms to collaborate on biochip research

Posted: 28 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:biochip research? Japan firms? biochips collaboration?

Seeking new revenue sources in a market currently dominated by U.S. firms, Toshiba Corp., Canon Inc. and 30 to 40 other Japanese firms reportedly plan to collaborate to develop biochips, according to a Reuters report.

The companies, including synthetic-fiber maker Toray Industries and electronics firm Yokogawa Electric, will together standardize microchips that respond to genetic material, said the report quoting Takashi Kawai, a spokesman for medical-consulting firm MediBic.

The companies will work together to standardize biochips for medical diagnoses and food safety checks, targeting a market they expect to grow to $863 million in 2010 in Japan, he said.

Demand for biochips in Japan comes mostly from research institutions, where U.S. firms Affymetrix and Agilent Technologies are the dominant suppliers. The two hold patents for technologies that pinpoint DNA or RNA on membranes.

"Many applications for biochips have yet to be developed," Kawai said. "Some 30 to 40 companies have already signed on."

Canon and its Japanese peers are beefing up investment to develop products in quest of new growth drivers amid increasing competition in existing businesses from rivals in China, South Korea and Taiwan.

The group, with administrative support from government-affiliated Kazusa DNA Research Institute, plan to form a consortium Oct. 19, calling on some 100 companies to join.

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