WaferGen Biosystems Inc., a leading developer of advanced genetic analysis systems, announced today eight new customers participating in the WaferGen early-access program, which provides customers early versions of the company’s state-of-the-art SmartChip gene analysis platform prior to general availability. The SmartChip system offers researchers high-throughput gene interrogation and validation, allowing faster and more cost effective drug development. WaferGen sees SmartChip as the platform of choice for biomarker discovery and validation.

The new early-access customers include Stanford University, University of California at San Francisco, University of Pittsburgh, University of Southern California, and the University of Texas Southwestern, along with two Japanese organizations, and an undisclosed U.S. biotech company. Areas of research include cancer, lung disease, and stem cell research.

WaferGen also announced that it has shipped the first SmartChip Real-Time PCR System to an international customer in Japan following the receipt of CE Marking certification (official verification that a medical device has met specified health, safety, and environmental requirements, allowing it access to the EU market and Japan).

WaferGen’s commercialization strategy is to generate revenue through both the early-access program and the recently launched WaferGen SmartChip Service. The new service allows customers to receive gene-expression profiling services by WaferGen scientists at the company’s new headquarters in Fremont, CA.

WaferGen CEO, president, and chairman, Alnoor Shivji, said of the development, “These notable early users of our SmartChip platform are clear indication of its value to vastly improve gene expression analysis and genotyping in order to provide a better understanding of disease at the molecular level and advance the drug development process. SmartChip offers researchers the high-throughput capability of interrogating thousands of genes and validating hundreds of samples simultaneously in a single run using Real-Time PCR. This improved molecular analysis could thereby provide the potential for a patient to be diagnosed and even selected for clinical trials according to genetic information. Therapies could be developed to work on specific molecular targets. This could shorten the drug development process, help reduce the costs of drug development, and enable more successful end-products.”