Looking to build its position as a player for microarray-based proteomic, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-on-chip, and bacterial expression applications, Dutch reagent shop Kreatech Biotechnology plans to launch several new kits over the next few months, according to a company official.
Specifically, Brent Keller, general manager and vice president of commercial operations at Kreatech, told BioArray News last week that the company will launch three new kits for proteomics applications by the end of this year.
He also said that kits for ChIP-on-chip and bacterial expression applications, co-developed with the Seattle-based Institute for Systems Biology, were in Kreatech's pipeline.
The new products will follow a host of other kits released over the past 12 months for applications as diverse as array comparative genomic hybridization and antibody and miRNA studies as Kreatech sticks to its marketing plan of "product proliferation."
Separately, Keller said that Kreatech plans to add personnel to its commercial operations to work with its network of independent regional distributors, and that the company is still looking for distributors in several European markets.
In the proteomics arena, Keller said that Kreatech is looking to build on its existing offering by focusing on different sample inputs.
ULS is an extremely versatile reagent -- so one of our strategies is to continue to develop kits for as many applications as we can.
The company initially began selling into the proteomics market by launching its Serum ULS Protein Labeling and Fluorescent Detection Kit and its Cell Lysate ULS Protein Labeling and Fluorescent Detection Kit last autumn (see BAN 10/12/2005). In March, Kreatech followed the offering with single-color ULS Protein Labeling and Fluorescent Detection Kits for proteomics applications (see BAN 3/7/2006).
Now, according to Keller, the company will expand its presence in the proteomics market by launching a line of general protein binding kits called PlatinumLink, which will become available "within the next 30-60 days."
The PlatinumLink series, like all of Kreatech's kits, will contain the firm's universal linkage system, which the company claims can enable the attachment of a variety of labels directly to DNA, RNA, and proteins.
Keller added that Kreatech also will launch protein labeling and fluorescent detection kits for plasma and urine in the future. Kits for reverse phase arrays and peptide arrays are also planned, he said.
Despite the company's interest in proteomics, Keller conceded that the protein array market is "still developing quite slowly" mostly due to "some of the questions surrounding the quality and specificity of the array itself."
"Improving the arrays seems to be what's holding the market back. A lot of people liken it to where the expression market was 5-10 years ago," Keller said. "We are still optimistic about antibody arrays in the marketplace and we will continue kits that are necessary for those applications," he added.
Another nascent market that Kreatech will look to serve this year is the ChIP-on-chip market, which has been buoyed by the launch of platforms from Agilent Technologies, NimbleGen Systems, and Affymetrix over the past year.
Kreatech originally announced its plans to launch a ULS kit for ChIP-on-chip and bacterial gene expression applications, co-developed with ISB, in September 2005 (see BAN 9/27/2005). According to Keller, the ISB has recently released the kit protocols to Kreatech, which is currently optimizing them.
"We hope before year-end that we will be able to deliver those kits ... to the customer base," Keller said. Kreatech also considers ChIP-on-chip, likemproteomics, to be "a relatively nascent market," especially when compared to the market for array CGH or array-based miRNA applications, where Kreatech is also active with several kits.
Though the markets for these newer kits are smaller than the array CGH market, for example, Keller said that part of Kreatech's overall strategy is to release a broad portfolio of kits to the market to serve the diverse needs of researchers.
"One of the points in our marketing plan is product proliferation," Keller said. "We know there are many different applications within genomics, proteomics, and molecular cytogenetics. ULS is an extremely versatile reagent, so one of our strategies is to continue to develop kits for as many applications as we can," he said.
"Being a small company, we certainly do battle the issue of brand identity, but my feeling is the more applications we can address the more familiar the users will become with the technology," Keller added. He said that Kreatech views its proteomics, array CGH, and microRNA offerings as "gateways" for its target customers: large core and service labs.
Kreatech's main competitors are the platform providers themselves, and the company has launched kits specifically for Affymetrix users. Keller claims that the company's kits can work on any platform, be it commercial or homebrew.
Aside from the array manufacturers, Kreatech has different rivals depending on product. For example, its miRNA labeling kits compete in the same marketplace as some of Ambion's miRNA labeling kits.
Sales Support and Distribution
Unlike some other rivals, Kreatech does not have a direct sales force. Instead the company has decided to patch together a network of focused regional distributors to sell its kits (see BAN 7/13/2005).
However, Keller said that the company now has decided to hire two "sales development managers" -- one for North America, the other for Europe -- in order to streamline sales of Kreatech's kits. The hires follow the establishment of Kreatech's US office in San Diego in September 2005 (see BAN 9/14/2005).
"We will have a person working for Kreatech in the US that will work with our distributor Open Biosystems to penetrate the top core labs and we will have a similar person in Europe to work with our European distributors to help move product placement along as well," Keller explained.
"It's not a direct sales force at all. Our sales will still go through our distributors but they will be a sales support for the distributor," he added.
Keller also said that Kreatech is looking to fill the remaining gaps in its distribution network. So far this year, Kreatech has added three new distributors in Europe. In February, Durviz agreed to distribute the firm's nucleic acid and protein labeling kits in Spain. Genova Medikal agreed to distribute ULS kits in Turkey in April, and last month MedProbe agreed to distribute the firm's ULS kits in Norway and Sweden.
The company still lacks distributors in France, Denmark, and Finland, according to Keller. "Those are the three biggest holes we have, but in the rest of the world I think we are adequately covered," he said.
Eventually, Keller said the firm will probably have 15-18 distributors in total.
— Justin Petrone ([email protected])