Expression Analysis, a provider of genomic testing and other genotyping services, has not only landed a major contract worth nearly $6 million but also received another boost to its corporate credibility by winning a high-profile repeat customer.

The Environmental Protection Agency has signed on with the Durham-based company for a five-year contract that cop top out at $5.8 million, Expression Analysis Chief Executive Officer Steve McPhail said Thursday.

“It shows they certainly value the types of services we provide,” McPhail told WRAL Local Tech Wire.

The new deal is not as large as a previous contract with the EPA, McPhail added, but he said landing the huge federal agency for a protect that includes testing of some 300 chemicals is a major deal for the firm.

“This is a new opportunity for us to serve a great client,” he explained.
At approximately $1.2 million per year, the deal also is a substantial boost to Expression Analysis’ bottom line. The privately held firm, which employs 25 people, reported some $8 million in revenues for 2006.

The EPA deal calls for Expression Analysis to provide gene expression and genotyping services using microarrays. Microarray technology enables researchers to genetic information such as gene "expression" or what genes are "turned on."

Expression Analysis will work with the EPA with its ToxCast program. The project will be managed by the National Center for Computational Toxicology of EPA.

“They are looking to be better able to classify the risk posed by these types of chemicals,” McPhail said.

The EPA wants to use the program to develop toxicological profiles for more than 300 chemicals. A second phase will use information learned from the initial program to deal with environmental chemicals “of concern” to the EPA.

According to the EPA and Expression Analysis, the contract could produce a “successful prioritization program” that would save “significant dollars and reduce the number of animals required” in for identification of chemicals that have the “greatest potential toxicity.”

The contract is the latest in a series of good news announcements for Expression Analysis, which was launched in 2001. Last year, it signed a genomics testing contract with GlaxoSmithKline. Wyeth, another drug giant, is also an Expression Analysis customer.

“It’s very good,” McPhail said of business. “Our revenues doubled last year.” The company is self-funded and profitable, he added.

As pharmaceutical firms move closer to development of personalized medicine based on genomics, demands for the kinds of services Expression Analysis continues to grow, he added.

“Our business really revolves around pharmaceutical clinical trials,” he explained. “That’s where we’ve built our beachhead.

“We provide the pharmaceutical firms with genetic testing services that assist them in understanding patients and their genetic predisposition to respond or not to respond to compounds under study.”

Expression Analysis recently moved to office and lab space covering 10,000 square feet in Durham. The new facility is double that of its previous operation.