These advances have led countries to develop bone marrow registries that can be used to obtain matches for leukemia patients and others needing transplants.

While more lives are being saved, only about 20 percent of patients needing bone marrow transplants have living blood-related donors. Others have to find a match in someone totally unrelated. This is where the registry comes into play. The more the number of donors registered, the better the chances are of a quicker, near-perfect match.

New directions
Among One Lambda's customers is the immunogenetic lab at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. Originally, the lab purchased serology trays from One Lambda before switching to their DNA based products.

"Their products have always been the best on the market," said Dr. Elaine Reed, director of the lab. "They are reliable and always generating new products, so we want to continue working with them."

Emerging uses include tests for diagnosing spontaneous abortions or designing personalized versions of brand-name drugs that could increase their effectiveness.

On the company's campus, the research zone is separated from corporate offices by a parking lot. From the main door, it takes three swipes of an ID card to get to the sprawling 27,000-square-foot lab.

The room, containing an array of machines that hold DNA fragments for testing, is stark white and the floor is a maze of wires. Computers and research scientists dot the floor. (Many researchers are recruited from UCLA and the Cal State Northridge.)

Typical customers for One Lambda's typing trays are labs in hospitals, specialty research labs and other organizations like the Laboratory Corp. of America and the National Marrow Donor Program.

"The National Marrow Donor program would probably charge $60 for a test, but that is because they do it on a large scale. Normal hospitals usually charge around $100 for one test, which is still affordable," Ayoub said.

The company also produces tests tailored to the genetic makeup and disease profile of varying ethnic groups Asian trays, Hispanic trays, African-American trays, for example.

"There are (antibodies) that are very rare here but could be very common in Japan. So for trays being shipped to Japan, we will emphasize on those antibodies and call them Asian trays," Ayoub said.

One Lambda scientists could one develop new typing trays that will help detect spontaneous abortions, monitor drug response to help tailor-make drugs to suit needs of different people and also to detect ankylosing spondylitis, a disease that causes the bones of the spine to grow together.

"A lot of these are works in progress," said Ayoub. "It will open up a whole new market for HLA. The need for HLA research and technology has grown to more than ever before."


For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.