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Biosystems International, MicroBioChips Merge to Combine Antibody Array Platforms

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By Justin Petrone

Biosystems International this week said that it will merge with MicroBioChips. The two Paris-based firms earlier this year announced a partnership to develop monoclonal antibody microarrays that combine BSI's antibodies with MBC's microarray platform.

The firms said that the merger "will optimize the production and sales of microarrays and related services and accelerate the development of diagnostic tests." It also will provide "significant commercial, administrative, and financial synergies," they added.

Jean Pierre Tirouflet, president of Paris-based BSI, said in a statement that the merger will help reduce its time to market for diagnostic tests, including its lung cancer test, which is in late-stage development.

According to the firms, the partial transfer of assets of MBC to BSI was approved by shareholders in July. Prior to the merger agreement, BSI realized a capital increase of €2.1 million ($2.8 million), and MBC realized a capital increase of €225,000, "assuring the merged firm has sufficient capital for future development."

BSI is developing diagnostic tests based on its monoclonal antibody proteomics process for discovering biomarkers and corresponding antibodies. The company has said in previous statements that it expects to begin selling its enzyme-linked immunsorbant assay-based lung cancer test next year. It relies on lung cancer-specific antibodies to detect early-stage lung cancer in patient sera.

William Hempel, BSI's director of scientific communication, told BioArray News in an e-mail this week that the company also has programs in breast and colon cancers that will "soon enter development." He did not elaborate.

BSI has also partnered with firms, including MBC, to sell antibody arrays. BSI has concluded agreements with both MBC and Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Arrayit to manufacture its PlasmaScan 80 and PlasmaScan380 antibody arrays, which contain 80 and 380 different monoclonal antibodies, respectively. BSI also has a partnership in place with Northern Ireland's Randox Laboratories to develop global profiling arrays that would enable label-free proteome profiling. According to BSI's website, a 69-antibody array has been developed with Randox, and a 250-antibody array is in development.

In light of the merger, Hempel said that BSI is "reassessing its relationship with Arrayit," but that there will be "no effect" on BSI's partnership with Randox.

MBC for its part has specialized in making protein and antibody arrays and providing related services. On its website, the company lists partnerships with Sigma-Aldrich, CapitalBio, VigeneTech, and Abcam. MBC has also developed Bioplume, a biological deposition technique that allows the production of nano-scale protein arrays.

According to Hempel, MBC's previous partnerships will not be affected by the merger. He also said that BSI is studying MBC's Bioplume technology for use in its business activities.

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