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Buying Caliper, PerkinElmer Will Gain Suite of Array-Related Tools


By Justin Petrone

PerkinElmer stands to gain a number of array-related tools through its planned acquisition of Caliper Life Sciences.

The two companies last week said PerkinElmer would buy Caliper for $600 million in stock. The deal is expected to close before the end of the year.

While Caliper has never been a pure-play array firm, it does sell a menu of products that are widely used in microarray laboratories. These include instruments for sample preparation, liquid handling, and imaging.

In a statement, PerkinElmer CEO Robert Friel said that the acquisition would give his company access to Caliper's molecular-imaging and -detection technologies, which would complement its life-science, diagnostics, environmental, and food-market offerings.

The Waltham, Mass.-based company also highlighted Caliper's "molecular, cellular, animal and tissue imaging," which it said would "enable translational medicine research;" its "microfluidics platform for genomics and proteomics applications, [which would yield] improved detection and screening through low sample use and efficiency;" and its "high-value sample-preparation technologies for key scientific workflow areas such as next-generation DNA sequencing."

Though PerkinElmer did not mention arrays during a conference call held last week to discuss the pending acquisition, Friel acknowledged that the purchase would allow his firm to expand its footprint in the genomics- and proteomics-research markets.

For instance, Caliper's website advertises a number of products for use with microarrays. These include its Sciclone G3 Workstation and its Zephyr Genomics Workstation, which the company said are "ideal for DNA extraction, PCR reaction setup, and chip preparation for microarray experiments."

The Sciclone G3 Liquid Handling Workstation, which can be used for sample prep, features a 96- or 384-channel pipetting head and offers non-contact liquid-level detection.

Meantime, the automated Zephyr Genomics Workstation, launched two years ago, is designed for DNA and RNA extraction, plasmid isolation, PCR purification, PCR sequencing, and other applications (BAN 1/27/2009).

Hopkinton, Mass.-based Caliper also offers the LabChip GX nucleic acid-separation system, a tool that is widely used in microarray labs. Relying on the firm's microfluidics technology to perform eletrophoretic separations, the GX can be used to detect and quantitate DNA fragments as part of genotyping, sequencing, and RT-PCR experiments.

Launched in 2008, the system can also be used to assess RNA quality prior to array-based expression profiling. (BAN 7/22/2008).

In addition, Caliper's lab-on-chip expertise earned the firm a partnership with at least one major array company in the past decade. In 2004, Caliper and Affymetrix inked a deal to co-develop automated target-preparation instruments for Affy's GeneChip system. The collaboration resulted in the 2005 launch of Affy's GeneChip Array Station (BAN 9/21/2005).

On the imaging side, Caliper sells a slide-analysis system called Vectra, which is marketed for use in tissue biomarker discovery and validation, signaling-pathway analysis in cancer research and drug development, and microenvironment analysis, including assessing tumor immunogenicity.

According to the firm's website, the platform offers automated slide-handling, multispectral imaging, and pattern recognition-based image analysis.

Vectra can be used to image cultured cells, cell spreads, and tissue sections or tissue microarrays, stained with products such as hematoxylin and eosin, trichrome, or immunofluorescence and immunohistochemical techniques. The tool can also automate the acquisition of quantitative data and allow users to extract data from as many as 200 slides in a batch run.

PerkinElmer competes directly in the array market. The firm's most significant presence is its Signature Genomics business, which it acquired last year (BAN 4/20/2010). Signature Genomics offers a suite of constitutional- and oncology-themed array-based tests.

PerkinElmer also sells a range of bacterial artificial chromosome comparative genomic hybridization arrays, called ConstitutionChips. The firm gained the research tools through its 2006 acquisition of Houston, Tex.-based Spectral Genomics (BAN 5/9/2006). PerkinElmer also offers its ScanRi array scanner and SpectraWare analysis software for use with the chips, according to its website.

Last month, PerkinElmer inked a distribution pact with Roche, covering the sales and distribution of Roche's NimbleGen CGX microarrays, reagents, instrument, and software. As of January 2012, PerkinElmer will assume responsibility from Roche for sales, service, and support of the CGX array workflow for most countries outside of the US (BAN 8/23/2011).

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

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