HOW IT WORKS: This diagram shows how Genzyme's SAGE method flows from one stage to another.
In 1997, Genzyme Corp. of Cambridge, Mass., was shopping for new technology. "We were creating a cancer company, to put together a group of technologies that would give us a gene-based approach to cancer drug discovery," recalls Susan Primrose, director of business development at the now-formed Genzyme Molecular Oncology (GMO) in Framingham, Mass.

They found a key to their project in SAGE (Serial Analysis of Gene Expression), then a proprietary technology of PharmaGenics Inc. of Allendale, N.J. GMO snapped up both the technology and the company. SAGE, which rapidly and quantitatively measures the differences in gene expression between two samples, quickly became a fixture in GMO's research program. "We believe it will be one of our mainstay technologies," Primrose says.

SAGE is just one approach to a broader technique, called differential gene expression,...

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