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For Greiner Bio-One, Plastic is the Word As Company Prepares Microtiter Arrays

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A German maker of laboratory wares is preparing to launch the first in a series of new microtiter-plate-format array products for high-throughput genomic and proteomic analysis, displaying initial prototypes of these plastic products at the Lab Automation conference in San Jose, Calif., last week (see illustrations, page 4).

Representatives of the bioscience division of Frickenhausen, Germany-based Greiner Bio-One told BioArray News last week that the company plans to roll out its plastic HTA Plate product line in the second half of 2004.

These products were two years in development.

Based on standard microtiter plate formats, and constructed of low-fluorescing plastic with a detachable silicon wash-collar feature, the company’s 96-well product is targeting the diagnostics markets. The company sees a $3 to $8 competitive price range for the individual slides that will fit onto its microtiter plate frame.

After the initial rollout of the plates, the company will introduce and market a reading instrument produced in collaboration with Ditibis, a digital biomedical imaging systems company located in Pforzheim, Germany, and will also roll out a series of specific tests for its platform.

“The diagnostics market is very conservative and price sensitive,” G nther Knebel, Greiner Bio-One’s director of research and development, told BioArray News. “We want to make a product that is more reliable, and combine conventional slides and the 96-well-plate [format]. For that market, the product must be robust, and have higher throughput.”

The microtiter plate product will be marketed as a platform for simultaneous analysis of multiple analytes.

Physically, the product will have low well walls — with a rim of .03 millimeters each — and will consist of four individual modules with 24 wells each. The plates will allow users to spot their choice of content on the plastic plates and conduct high-throughput processing, or select from a menu of DNA-based tests.

Greiner Bio and the company’s second division, Greiner Preanalytics, together have 1,000 employees and revenues of approximately €153 million a year. The firm traces its history back to the establishment of a business by Carl Albert Greiner in 1868. The company in 1953 first focused on processing plastics by injection molding. The company then established Greiner Labortechnic to make petri dishes from plastic a decade later and, in 2000, became Greiner Bio-One and opened a second facility in the US.

“We have long-time experience in microtiter [products],” said Knebel. “We have been looking for niche markets and we wanted to make a product for a broader range of users. We are quite hopeful that we will direct the use of microarrays in the diagnostic field.”

The company also sees a need for a scanner that can handle microtiter plates — at a price point that is attractive for wide use.

“The only scanner that is available now is made by Tecan and it sells for $100,000. But, it only does bottom-reading,” said Knebel. The scanner under development — and the company’s analysis platform — will allow multidimensional reading of the microtiter plates. “It will be a scanning device at a moderate price.”

The rollout roadmap begins with the launch of the slides, then the plates, which will consist of 12 compartments each, as well as the collars which function to increase the available volumes for hybrid-ization and washing and are detachable for high-volume scanning.

The DNA-based tests for the platform will be available only in Europe.

The company’s initial test, called ParoCheck, is a test for periodontitis, and is an assay for approximately 10 to 20 pathogens associated with the disease, which arises from the accumulation of bacteria on the surfaces of teeth.

“We are not only seeking the diagnostics market for humans, but are also creating DNA-based tests for the food and the feed industry,” said Knebel.

The company plans to roll out, CarnoCheck, an assay for meat, in the middle of 2004, followed by an HPV assay, PapilloCheck, at the end of the year, Knebel said.

—MOK

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