This story originally appeared in Biocommerce Week, a newsletter that has been discontinued.
Two weeks after completing the acquisition of Canadian molecular diagnostics firm Tm Bioscience, Luminex has renamed it Luminex Molecular Diagnostics and is showing off its newly acquired assays and other new products at a user forum in California.
Luminex acquired Tm in a stock-for-stock deal worth roughly $44 million that immediately moved the firm beyond its primary partnership model and put it in direct competition with other molecular diagnostic developers, particularly those working on multiplex assays, such as Qiagen and Illumina (see BioCommerce Week 12/20/2006).
The acquisition also provided Luminex with both US- and European-approved molecular diagnostic tests and manufacturing facilities, as well as a portfolio of analyte-specific reagents. Perhaps most importantly, Tm already sells a cystic fibrosis molecular diagnostic panel that has been cleared by both the US Food and Drug Administration and European regulatory authorities. In addition, it has submitted a respiratory virus panel to the FDA, and Luminex expects to receive clearance for that product soon.
This week, Luminex is showing off the Tm assays along with some new product introductions at its Planet xMAP USA symposium in Dana Point, Calif. The symposium is comprised of “community end-users, prospects, high-end users, and basically they share their experience with the technology,” said Greg Gosch, vice president of marketing and sales at Luminex.
“It’s sort of divided into camps,” he told BioCommerce Week. “We have clinical diagnostics customers that come in and present data. Those are presented based on their own development and home-brew applications, as well as kits that they’ve purchased from our partners. We also have a life science research day, where people from pharmaceutical and academic labs come in and do the same thing,” he said.
“Our objective is to broaden the minds of the users to the various opportunities that are made available on the platform and introduce them to new concepts and new ideas,” said Gosch.
Among the new products that Luminex is demonstrating are its MagPlex microspheres, which add a magnetic component to the company’s already existing xMAP microsphere technology.
“It’s basically an upgrade to what we had previously,” said Gosch. “We had microspheres already. They were non-magnetic, and so in order to put them into an automation system, one had to use a filter plate as part of the workflow process. Now, the magnetic beads eliminate the need for a filter plate,” he said.
The MagPlex microspheres are used solely with Luminex systems, but can be used in conjunction with a variety of sample prep technologies.
“We even recommend certain kinds of magnetic separator plates to be used,” said John Carrano, vice president of R&D at Luminex. “In fact, as part of our validation of the magnetic microsphere product … we did do evaluations with other off-the-shelf technologies that would help a user interface with one of these automated liquid handlers.”
He declined to name any of the off-the-shelf technologies, as it wasn’t “an official validation.”
Specifically in the sample prep area, Luminex has a partnership with PerkinElmer, which makes the Janus automated workstation for high-throughput liquid handling.
“They have it integrated with our system,” said Gosch. “Obviously, our customers have lots of robotic-type systems, and we have some relationships with systems … that have been integrated by our customers,” he said. “Those are not official partnerships like we have with PerkinElmer, but we have successfully integrated with [sample prep technologies from firms such as] Qiagen and Tecan and Beckman [Coulter].”
According to Gosch, workflow improvement was the fundamental reason why Luminex developed the MagPlex microspheres. “Automation is also an issue, and it’s become a growing issue for us as volumes for our applications have increased,” he said.
Gosch noted that the launch of the MagPlex microspheres was not driven specifically by Luminex’s growing presence in molecular diagnostics, but “in the diagnostics realm, the demand for improved workflow increases even more so. We certainly believe it’s going to be a significant utility that they’ll use,” said Gosch.
Luminex also introduced its xPonent software, which incorporates more than 300 new features that are designed to simplify lab workflow and increase productivity. The new software will be sold on new Luminex systems and is available as an upgrade to systems already purchased by customers.