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Thermo, Fisher Customers Weigh In on Merger

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While Thermo Electron and Fisher Scientific officials said that their merger would result in more accurate, cost-effective laboratory products, current customers are split about the companies’ ability to integrate their sales and support teams, and some say they dislike the idea of less market competition.

The $10.6 billion merger, disclosed in May and expected to close in the fourth quarter, will create Thermo Fisher Scientific, a company with $9 billion in annual revenues, 7,500 sales people, and 350,000 customers worldwide.

Thermo CEO Marijn Dekkers, who will become head of the new company, indicated in a conference call that Fisher’s focus on consumables and Thermo’s focus on instrumentation gives the new entity “a complete tool set of customer solutions,” he said.

But some existing customers are skeptical that the deal will benefit consumers. “In my view, Thermo has all these parts — there’s Thermo Finnigan, Thermo Savant, Thermo Hypersil — and there’s not much cross-talk between those divisions,” says Michael Myers, director of proteomics at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and a Thermo customer. “Based on that history, I don’t think they’re going to do a good job integrating their technologies.”

Others customers are less skeptical. “I think it’s a brilliant move,” says Keith Solomon, an assistant professor in Orthopedic Surgery at Children’s Hospital Boston. “One company with an integrated sales team should be able to facilitate you getting everything you need, from hoods to incubators and disposables, to mass specs. And they may be able to give you a really good price.”

But people like Sunny Tam, director of the Proteomic Fractionation Group at the University of Massachusetts Medical School Proteomic Consortium, dislike the idea of too much consolidation. “In the past, we saw a lot of competition for consumers, and it was good for the consumer,” he says. “Less competition could be worrying for us from the researcher perspective.”

— Tien-Shun Lee

Short Reads

Agilent Technologies reported eight percent quarterly revenue growth for its Bio-Analytical Measurement segment — from last year’s $344 million to $372 million — amid an overall revenue increase of 12 percent. Demand for proteomics and genomics products was up more than 20 percent from last year.

Mitsubishi Pharma chose Ludesi for its image analysis-processing of 2D gels. The Swedish company offers 2D gel image analysis as a service through a Web-based software that can be accessed by scientists from anywhere in the world.

Proteome Sciences formed a licensing agreement with BioMerieux to use its biomarkers in blood to detect, diagnose, and monitor stroke. For this deal, BioMerieux will test Proteome Sciences’ biomarkers for a stroke diagnostic panel.

Protein biomarker discovery firm Peakadilly licensed the MetaCore pathway analysis platform from GeneGo.

Nonlinear Dynamics and Agilent Technologies signed a co-marketing agreement through which the companies will automate data exportation from Agilent’s 2100 bioanalyzer platform for analysis, archiving, and data mining with Nonlinear’s TL 120 DM software.

Cell Signaling Technology partnered with Bio-Rad to develop phosphoprotein assays to be commercialized with Bio-Rad’s bead-based assays.

 

PATENT WATCH

US Patent 7,053,367. Mass spectrometer. Inventors: Tomoyuki Tobita, Toshihiro Ishizuka, Masaru Tomioka, Kiyomi Yoshinari, and Masami Sakamoto. Assignee: Hitachi High-Technologies. Issued: May 30, 2006.

This patent covers a mass spectrometer “utilizing an atmospheric pressure ion source [such that] the amount of un-vaporized droplets that reach a mass spectrometric section is reduced.” It comprises various sections at different pressures and electrodes.

US Patent 7,053,366. Desalting plate for MALDI mass spectrometry. Inventors: Edouard Bouvier, Bruce Compton, Dominic Gostick, and Jeffery Brown. Assignee: Waters Investments. Issued: May 30, 2006.

The invention is made up of a “sample presentation surface, wherein the sample presentation surface comprises at least one receiving surface of an absorbent layer, wherein the absorbent layer retains selected molecules on the receiving surface. Methods for making and using the sample support plate in conventional and automated MALDI-MS are also described.”

Datapoint

$1.4 million

Amount awarded by NCI to Insightful, a statistical software developer, to design proteomics software for identifying protein biomarkers and processing and analyzing protein mass spectral data.