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Avantra Changes Name to Courtagen as Part of Expansion into Genomic Tools Market


By Justin Petrone

Avantra Biosciences this week changed its name to Courtagen Life Sciences in order to better reflect the firm's desire to move beyond the proteomics market and into other application areas, according to company officials.

"The name change reflects the company's new strategic focus on developing advanced technologies in both genomic and proteomic areas, and our commitment to bring additional needed technologies to the market," said CEO Brian McKernan in a statement.

Elizabeth Holland, vice president of business operations at the Woburn, Mass.-based firm, said the company wants its portfolio to include technologies for genomics research. "We have plans to enter the genomics space as well," Holland told BioArray News this week, without describing those technologies.

Avantra Biosciences still exists, though as a subsidiary of Courtagen, and the Avantra name will continue to be used for Courtagen's proteomics portfolio as the company looks to introduce other products.

As part of the name change, "Courtagen Life Sciences [becomes] the parent company for Avantra Biosciences," Holland said. "The employees of Avantra are now employees of Courtagen but continue to work on the Avantra technology."

Courtagen's new website references its "companies [that] deliver tools that enable researchers and clinicians to make better decisions regarding drug development and patient care." At the moment, Avantra is Courtagen's only subsidiary.

To date, Courtagen has only served the protein-research market. The company was founded as Avantra Biosciences last year when Charlestown, Mass.-based Courtagen Capital acquired the assets of Decision Biomarkers, a protein biomarker technology firm that filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2009 and soon after shuttered its doors.

McKernan, a Courtagen Capital managing partner, was previously CEO of Beverly, Mass.-based Agencourt Bioscience, which Beckman Coulter acquired in 2005 for $140 million.

After that acquisition, Courtagen relaunched DBI's research-use-only AvantraTQ400 Biomarker Workstation. The workstation consists of an assay-processing and fluorescence-imaging platform, and disposable biochips that contain all the reagents required to perform multiplex biomarker assays.

Since then the firm has added a number of focused panels for use on the station, including a chip for studying angiogenesis (BAN 8/24/2010).

Called QPDx BioChips, the focused arrays are advertised as "self-contained multiplex protein immunoassays." The firm's website describes seven of them, one each for studying angiogenesis, inflammation, sepsis, obesity, chemokines, cytokines, and adhesion.

Holland this week said that only the angiogenesis panel remains available as a catalog product. "All the other panels are currently being developed and can easily be customized for client needs and quickly be made available," Holland said. She added that the firm continues to develop new panels though declined to say when and for what indications they will appear.

Holland noted that Courtagen earlier this year launched a custom assay-development service in which customers can request specific biomarker panels that Courtagen fabricates and optimizes. (BAN 6/7/2011.

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioArray News? Contact the editor at jpetrone [at] genomeweb [.] com.