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Thermo, ABI Follow Through on Growth Promises

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Reinforcing recent hints that they are looking to grow their proteomics technologies in 2007, Applied Biosystems announced a deal in January that would validate its biomarker technologies while Thermo Fisher Scientific separately made an acquisition strengthening its proteomic portfolio.

ABI will work with BG Medicine to discover and validate biomarkers, formalizing a relationship the two firms have had for several years. Terms of the deal call for an integration of ABI’s mass spectrometers and iTRAQ reagents into BGM’s biomarker research and validation work. The agreement does not include any transfer of intellectual property to ABI; any new biomarkers discovered as part of the collaboration will remain with BGM.

Meanwhile, Thermo Fisher announced that it had purchased the SwissAnalytic Group, made up of two companies, one a supplier of mass spectrometers and other instruments, the other a manufacturer of liquid chromatography pumps and software.

The deal bolsters Thermo Fisher’s proteomics portfolio and enhances its ability to do business with large drug companies based in Switzerland, according to a Thermo Fisher official. Switzerland is home to some of the biggest drug makers in the world, including Roche, Novartis, and Serono.

Neither deal is considered major, but both reinforced hints the firms made at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference early this year to grow their proteomics businesses in 2007.

At the conference, ABI interim CEO Tony White told analysts that one focus of the company is to continue discovering, validating, and commercializing proteomic biomarkers. Such biomarkers, he added, are expected to be key revenue drivers for ABI during the next three years.

Separately, Marijn Dekkers, president and CEO of Thermo Fisher, said that the company remains interested in acquiring more companies in 2007 and will be looking vigorously at expanding its reach in the liquid chromatography market.

- Tony Fong

Short Reads

The University of Michigan launched a protein database that can be used by scientists looking for information about protein processes. The Michigan Molecular Interactions index pulls data from multiple repositories to generate a thorough look at protein interactions.

Waters has released control software to integrate its Acquity UPLC system with ABI/MDS Sciex’s mass spectrometers.

Virginia Tech is starting a mass spectrometry research incubator that will study the proteomics and metabolomics of host-pathogen relationships. Launched with $26 million granted by the Commonwealth Research Initiatives, the incubator aims to discover and understand the chemical nature of stress responses to such conditions as bacterial infections and microbial responses to environmental changes. Associate professor Richard Helm will manage the incubator.

A team of scientists at MIT have built a microchip system that speeds up the separation of biomolecules such as proteins, allowing for better detection. The new device, called an anisotropic nanofluidic sieving structure, enables rapid continuous-flow separation
of the biological sample.

Thermo Fisher Scientific reported that revenues grew 125 percent during the fourth quarter to $1.68 billion. During the year-ago period, the company, reporting only as Thermo Electro, had revenues of $740.8 million.

Patents

US Patent 7,170,052. MALDI-IM-ortho-TOF mass spectrometry with simultaneous positive and negative mode detection. Inventors: Hiroshi Furutani, Michael Ugarov, Kimberly Prather, and Albert Schultz. Assignees: Ionwerks and the Regents of the University of California. Issued: January 30, 2007.

This patent covers “an ion mobility/mass spectrometry method and instrument using aerosolized samples and dual positive and negative mode detection” as well as methods for sample preparation.

US Patent 7,170,051. Method and apparatus for ion fragmentation in mass spectrometry. Inventors: Vadym Berkout and Vladimir Doroshenko. Assignee: Science & Engineering Services. Issued: January 30, 2007.

“An apparatus for mass analyzing molecules includes a mass spectrometer configured to select precursor ions having a mass to charge ratio range, a metastable species generator configured to generate a metastable species for introduction into the mass spectrometer, and a mass detector configured to detect a mass of the product ions,” according to the patent abstract.

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