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PerkinElmer Hopes Two New Alliances Will Help It Grow Biomarker-Discovery Business

PerkinElmer announced two academic collaborations over the past week, one with New York's Jacobi Medical Center and the other with noted George Mason University researchers Lance Liotta and Emanuel Petricoin, aimed at developing new biomarker-discovery technologies.

The collaborations are the latest in a series of efforts by PerkinElmer to expand its biomarker-discovery capabilities and proteomics-based diagnostics portfolio while continuing its focus on the genetic and maternal screening markets.

As part of the Jacobi Medical Center alliance, the partners aim to develop a genetic screening platform that will combine PerkinElmer's multiplexing capabilities with Jacobi's patient samples and expertise in treating genetic diseases. The partnership will focus on bead-based multiplex technologies, such as Luminex's xMAP platform that PerkinElmer licensed earlier this year, to identify and validate biomarkers for genetic diseases.

Ann-Christine Sundell, vice president of PerkinElmer's genetic screening business, told BioCommerce Week that one of the goals of the collaboration would be to develop a new instrument for genetic-disease biomarkers. "We hope that we are going to get a lot of information through this collaboration, which will help us finalize development of a new platform," she said in an interview this week.

She said that Jacobi, which is developing a centralized molecular genetics diagnostic laboratory, is "providing us with a lot of insight in how to streamline the system so it is robust and fits a high-quality clinical setting."

"… this has the potential to be a relationship that we can continue into many different areas."

In the first phase of the collaboration, the partners will not use PerkinElmer's BioXpression platform for protein biomarker discovery, said Sundell. "It's more towards looking at streamlining multiplex technologies and … DNA-based applications," she said, with the Luminex technology being an example of what may be employed by the partners in the collaboration.

Under the terms of the Luminex pact, which was signed in January, PerkinElmer is standardizing its multiplex assay development on the xMAP platform.

Sundell declined to disclose whether PerkinElmer would own the biomarkers or share them with Jacobi. She also declined to provide a timeframe on when products from the collaboration may be commercialized, but "definitely, this has the potential to be a relationship that we can continue into many different areas," she said.

According to Sundell, the partnership with Jacobi "is a model we have successfully utilized in various parts of the world," though she didn't provide details of similar efforts. She also said additional academic collaborations would be announced shortly by PerkinElmer.

Meantime, PerkinElmer's collaboration with well-known proteomics researchers Lance Liotta and Emanuel Petricoin of George Mason University centers on the development of a new immuno-mass spectrometry-based platform for biomarker discovery.

The five-year alliance will focus specifically on using immuno-mass spectrometry to find biomarkers for ovarian, breast, and Stage I lung cancer, and to develop commercial diagnostics for those cancers. The approach uses an antibody-based immunoassay to first capture candidate disease-associated proteins and peptides, and then uses mass spectrometry to further hone in on the exact sizes of the peptides that have diagnostic potential.

Mary Lopez, the collaboration's leader in the Molecular Medicine department at PerkinElmer, told BioCommerce Week sister publication ProteoMonitor that Liotta and Petricoin's work and concepts fit well into her company's BioXpression platform for biomarker discovery, which involves using technology made by Vivascience to elute peptides off of high-concentration carrier proteins, and then using PerkinElmer's prOTOF2000 MALDI mass spectrometers and mass spectra processing software, developed in conjunction with Nonlinear Dynamics, to find potential biomarkers (see ProteoMonitor 3/23/2006).

The collaboration builds on the researchers' discovery of an archive of protein fragments in human blood. "The new concept — that disease detection lies in the information stored in fragments of proteins — requires both the precise and the amino acid sequence of the candidate biomarker," Petricoin said in a statement announcing the PerkinElmer collaboration.

"Our interest in working together had started in applying Liotta's concept of carrier protein capture to biomarker discovery," said Lopez. "Going back a few years, they had developed this hypothesis, and we were interested in working with them to try to develop some products to take advantage of that strategy."

Building Biomarker Business, But
Retaining Focus on Genetic Tests

The collaborations are the latest in a series of efforts by PerkinElmer to expand its biomarker-discovery capabilities and proteomics-based diagnostics portfolio.

Earlier this month, the firm acquired Agilix's i-PROT protein-labeling technology, which uses isobaric mass tags to simultaneously quantify proteins from multiple samples in one mixture (see BioCommerce Week 3/15/2006). The technology enables quantitative comparison between proteins expressed in a number of different conditions, for example at six or seven different time points.

PerkinElmer intends to use the i-PROT technology in biomarker panels for pharmaceutical development and ADME/Tox, as well as in vitro diagnostics for maternal, neonatal, and prenatal health.

The firm is the world's leader in prenatal genetic screening, and building its proteomics reagents portfolio is a key part of retaining that position. Robert Friel, vice chairman and president of PerkinElmer's Life and Analytical Sciences business, said during a January conference call, "Look for us to continue to invest in our proteomics reagents capabilities for advanced applications in biomarker discovery and new proteomics-based diagnostics. This would further complement and expand the BioXpression platform introduced in 2005." (see BioCommerce Week 1/4/2006).

— Edward Winnick ([email protected])


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