This story has been updated with comments from Alamar Biosciences.
NEW YORK – Swedish proteomics firm Olink is suing Alamar Biosciences for infringing a patent it said covers aspects of its proximity ligation assay (PLA) immunoassay technology.
In a suit filed last week in US District Court for the District of Delaware, Olink alleged that Freemont, California-based Alamar's NULISA (NUcleic acid-Linked Immuno-Sandwich Assay) technology infringes on US Patent Number 7,883,848, which was issued in 2011. According to Olink, this patent covers parts of the PLA technology that are used in NULISA.
PLA uses pairs of antibodies attached to unique DNA sequences to detect proteins of interest. When the antibodies bind to their targets, the attached DNA strands are brought into proximity and ligated, forming a new template that can be amplified by rolling circle amplification and then measured using readouts including PCR and next-generation sequencing.
Alamar has acknowledged, both in an interview with GenomeWeb and in a recently published paper in Nature Communications, that NULISA is based on PLA. The NULISA workflow includes additional target pull-down and wash steps designed to boost the assay's sensitivity by improving its signal-to-noise ratio.
Alamar disputed Olink's claims that the '848 patent covers methods used in its NULISA system, however, with Yuling Luo, the company's founder, chairman, and CEO, asserting that the patent does not cover PLA and that all of Olink's patents that do cover PLA have lapsed, thereby placing the technology in the public domain.
Alamar CFO and Chief Business Officer Tod White noted that the '848 patent specifies at several points that the method it covers is distinct from PLA.
Olink argues in its suit, however, that the NULISA technology uses practices covered by the '848 patent.
The lawsuit comes as Alamar moves toward commercialization of the NULISA technology. The company has said it plans to launch an early-access program in 2023 and move to a broad commercial launch in 2024. According to Olink's court filing, the company has begun installing systems at users' facilities, including a system installed this month at Stanford University.
Alamar plans to compete in the mid- and high-plex, high-throughput proteomics market currently dominated by Olink and SomaLogic, though it plans to launch with a multiplex of only around 200 proteins, a significantly smaller panel than offered by those companies, whose panels feature roughly 5,000 and 11,000 protein targets, respectively.
In its suit, Olink asked that the court preliminarily and permanently enjoin Alamar from infringing the '848 patent and award it damages including lost profits, royalties, and legal costs.
Olink is in the process of being acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific, which in October announced plans to purchase the company for roughly $3.1 billion. The transaction is expected to close by mid-2024.