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Ciphergen Acquires Invitrogen s Chromatography Business for $12M in Cash

NEW YORK, June 25 - Ciphergen Biosystems has agreed to acquire BioSepra, a French chromatography equipment business, from Invitrogen for $12 million in cash, the companies said Monday.

Ciphergen said the acquisition would position it to develop protein purification products for the benchtop biology equipment market and provide additional capabilities for its ProteinChip protein screening and identification platform.  

In addition to purchasing BioSepra, Ciphergen will also work with Invitrogen to jointly develop benchtop protein purification products, ranging from benchtop chromatography columns to pre-fractionation kits for sample analysis. 

BioSepra, based outside Paris, had $5.9 million in sales in 2000, primarily from sales of large-scale process chromatography equipment to biopharmaceutical companies producing large amounts of proteins for use as drugs. But this market, valued at $240 million according to Ciphergen, is small in comparison with the $1 billion a year market for laboratory-scale bio-separations equipment.

Ciphergen plans to incorporate BioSepra's chromatography technology into its ProteinChip system, which already uses a method of chromatography called retentate chromatography, combined with mass spectrometry, to screen out certain types of proteins from biological fluids. Acquiring BioSepra allows Ciphergen to improve its ProteinChip chromatographic technology, and take advantage of the need for equipment to screen out, or prefractionate, large classes of proteins to identify low-abundance proteins that may be important in disease, said Martin Verhoef, Ciphergen's vice president for sales and marketing.

"Proteomics companies have put a lot of effort into studying all the proteins in the proteome, but the proteome is just too complex," said Verhoef. "All of these companies are going to have to go back to prefractionation to get [low-abundance proteins].

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