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Becton Dickinson Acquires Cytopeia in Effort to Reach New Cell-Based Markets

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Becton Dickinson last week said it has acquired privately held flow cytometry shop Cytopeia for an undisclosed price, and is betting that the firm’s inFlux cell sorter will help it reach new cell-based research markets.
 
The inFlux platform complements BD’s FACSAria II system, is open and configurable, and can be used in some emerging market areas that are out of reach for the FACSAria II. These include sorting larger cells that might be used in cell therapy and stem-cell research, drug discovery and development, and marine biology applications.
 
The inFlux instrument’s use of open configurable optics, stream-in-air fluidics, and a configuration that allows it to be sterilized “are the things that we intend to focus on and build on as a platform, [and] to make very attractive instruments for researchers in these emerging areas,” William Rhodes, president of cell analysis for BD Biosciences, told CBA News this week.  
 
“For us, [the Cytopeia acquisition] was the opportunity to [acquire] a technology and a product that was already established, combined with the opportunity to actually engage in and develop in expanding marketplaces,” Rhodes said.
 
Although these markets are smaller than those in which BD currently plays, they are growing more rapidly, said Rhodes. “For us, they represent an opportunity to get in early with the best technology and platform, and be the first to help drive these rapidly growing segments,” he said.      
 
Seattle-based Cytopeia, which is the first spin-off from the Institute for Systems Biology, generated around $9 million in revenues last year, said Rhodes. The company and its 29 employees will remain in Seattle, and BD plans to “align and integrate Cytopeia’s products and its people” within its cell analysis business, he added.
 
Rhodes said BD has no plans to restructure Cytopeia, but rather “is focused on integrating [its] products and technologies into our portfolio of capabilities.”
 
Cytopeia founder, president, and chief technology officer Ger van den Engh will join BD as vice president of advanced cytometry, and will continue developing technology in Seattle, according to BD.
 
He will also oversee the advanced cytometry area of BD’s Cell Analysis business unit. “We are looking to him to lead a small group of people to develop exciting, optimally designed instruments for cell biologists and researchers,” said Rhodes, to whom van den Engh will report.
 
Rhodes declined to discuss other tools or applications that BD plans to develop with Cytopeia.
 
Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but Rhodes said BD does not expect the buy to affect its 2008 earnings.
 
Cytopeia did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.