PerkinElmer said yesterday it will close its Signature Genomics business in Spokane, WA, and lay off all 80 workers based there, as part of a total shutdown of its cytogenetic testing services. 

The site, described on the company’s website as an array-based comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) diagnostic laboratory, will shut down later this year. The closing will end 11 years of operation for Signature Genomics, which provides diagnostic genetic testing services using microarrays.

Some 80 people will be idled, The Spokesman-Review newspaper of Spokane reported.

Signature Genomics was the first laboratory to provide microarray-based cytogenetic diagnostics for intellectual disability and birth defects through its SignatureChip, and had grown to 120 employees when it was acquired by PerkinElmer in 2010 for $90 million. At the time, PerkinElmer had hoped to strengthen its position in molecular diagnostics, which it viewed as complementary to its longtime strength in medical equipment.

“Changing market conditions, including a highly unfavorable reimbursement environment, combined with a significant decline in demand for invasive procedures due to the uptake of non-invasive prenatal testing, contributed to this decision,” PerkinElmer said in a statement. “We will focus on assisting Signature Genomics’ employees through this transition and providing our customers with immediate access to alternative providers for microarray testing.”

The statement offered no specific last date of operations.

Signature Genomics was co-founded by Lisa G. Shaffer, Ph.D., and Bassem A. Bejjani, M.D., who established the company as a partnership between Signature Genomic Services, Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories and Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Dr. Shaffer served as president until 2012, when she left to establish Paw Print Genetics, whose lab carries out testing and analysis of canine genetic diseases. Dr. Bejjani left Signature in 2011 and the following year co-founded Revemic Systems, a startup specializing in practical interpretation of genetic test results. His association with Revemic ended last year, according to his LinkedIn page.

On April 24, PerkinElmer reported first-quarter net income of $34.224 million, up 6% from the year-ago quarter, on $531.904 million in revenue, 5% above Q1 2013.

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