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Philips, BioMerieux to Develop Biochips for Cardiovascular Diseases

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By Justin Petrone

Royal Philips Electronics and bioMérieux plan to jointly develop fully automated handheld diagnostic biochips for hospital use that can be deployed at the point of care. The firms are aiming for eventual adoption of their chips in critical care settings within hospitals.

The deal is the latest for Philips, which is increasingly looking for partners to bring applications to market on its internally developed biosensor and microarray platforms.

For this alliance, Philips, based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, will provide the technology platform while bioMérieux, located in Marcy L'Etoile, France, will make use of its knowledge of cardiovascular and infectious disease markers to develop biological assays.

According to the firms, a product-development program is underway with the first milestone expected later this year. Resulting products will be co-branded by Philips and bioMérieux, with bioMérieux being the exclusive distributor worldwide. The two companies intend to have products on the market by 2013.

As part of the agreement, bioMérieux will have access to Philips' Magnotech platform. According to Philips, Magnotech uses magnetic nanoparticles to measure target molecules in samples of body fluids such as blood or saliva. A paper published by Philips scientists last year showed that the technology could detect drugs of abuse as well as a cardiac marker associated with heart attack within a few minutes.

Philips' activity is being led by its Handheld Diagnostics Business Venture, which is part of Philips Corporate Technologies and based in Eindhoven. Philips Handheld Diagnostics is funded by Philips Healthcare.

According to Philips spokesperson Steve Klink, the deal with bioMérieux is part of an increased focus by the Dutch company to bring new assays to market by working with outside partners. "We are working on a number of solutions that are on the interface between high technology and biology," Klink told BioArray News last week. "Our strategy is to choose a built-in partner to make sure we have full knowledge and abilities to take advantage of the technology," he said.

"We recognize that to have the biology expertise that bioMérieux has would require many more years for us," Klink added. "This is just a quicker way for us to go to market."

Last year, Philips announced a similar partnership with Orem, Utah-based Moxtek to develop a wire-grid microarray that could offer high surface-specificity and suppression of background signals, and could provide improved quantitative detection of biomolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids (see BAN 6/2/2009).

According to the firms, WGM works by illuminating a grid of metal nanowires with polarized excitation light, and then detecting the fluorescence generated by target molecules bound to capture probes on the substrate between the nanowires.

Klink said last week that Philips Research is currently working with Moxtek on a prototype to demonstrate proof of principle. Products resulting from that collaboration will be licensed to an existing player in the life sciences tool market and both Philips and Moxtek will support the adoption of the technology by the licensee and in its further development, he said.

Still, Klink pointed out that the deal with bioMérieux and the deal with Moxtek differ in scope and that different teams are working on the projects. Whereas the work with Moxtek focuses primarily on DNA and RNA diagnostics, the bioMérieux work using Magnotech is for immunoassays only.

"Standard assays are lab based with many different steps. We want to miniaturize them into a hand-held design," Klink said of the chip being developed with bioMérieux. "Instead of miniaturizing each step, we rethought the complete process. Reengineering of the process allowed us to miniaturize the overall concept."

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