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At SBS, Genetix, Cisbio, Thermo Fisher Debut New HCS Products and Add-Ons

MONTREAL — Genetix, Cisbio, and Thermo Fisher Scientific were among several companies that launched new products and debuted extensions or upgrades to existing platforms at the Society for Biomolecular Sciences’ annual meeting, held here this week.
Benchtop for the Masses
Genetix, a biopharmaceutical and clinical research supply house based in New Milton, UK, this week announced the launch of its new benchtop fluorescent cell analyzer, CellReporter.
According to Hilary Latham, Genetix’ marketing manager, the product will sell for between $185,000 and $195,000, which the company said fits into its strategy to deliver technologies that can accommodate academic budgets.
“We wanted to make a small, benchtop analyzer that was affordable, so that everyone could have one in their lab,” Latham told CBA News at the conference.
Genetix is positioning the product as a cost-effective alternative to Evotec Tech/PerkinElmer’s Opera HCS, TTP’s Acumen Explorer, and GE Healthcare’s IN Cell 3000, among others, said Latham. She said CellReporter is designed to perform secondary screens to generate compound hit lists.
CellReporter uses white light and multiplexed fluorescence to quantitatively screen live-cell assays in multiwell plates, according to Latham.
“The system looks at populations of cells, not just within a single cell, so researchers know which compounds to pursue,” she said.
CellReporter includes campaign-driven software, imaging instrumentation, and reagents for applications such as cell viability and morphology, cell proliferation, and apoptosis. Latham said that more kits will be added going forward, depending on customer feedback.
The company said CellReporter combines the speed of a plate reader, the quality of a microscope, and the insight of high-content assays.
The system assesses multiple parameters in parallel and delivers immediate analysis and normalization of data. The product also has built-in features that validate assay read outs. These features can generate a compound hit list shortly after assay completion. 
Data from CellReporter are stored in a standard format that can be exported to other processing packages. CellReporter researchers may also obtain cell growth and assay data by using Genetix’s CloneSelect Imager, which provides a link to the CellReporter.
Genetix will initially market CellReporter at trade shows to identify potential customers, Latham said. Beginning in September, the company’s sales force will begin to sell the platform. Latham also said that Genetix has recently increased its US sales force.
The CellReporter launch follows Genentix’ acquisition of Applied Imaging for approximately $25.8 million in cash. The transaction was completed in November. (See CBA News, 3/2/07) At the time, Genetix CEO Mark Reid said in a statement, “Combining with Applied Imaging will increase Genetix’ strength in cell imaging and analysis, allowing us to exploit the growth opportunities in both the drug discovery and clinical diagnostics markets.”
Cisbio Expands KinEASE
Also at SBS, Cisbio debuted an expanded version of its homgenous time-resolved fluorescence KinEASE kinase assay platform that now includes tyrosine kinase screening. Kits that screen for serine and threonine kinase are already available.
The KinEASE assays can be run with any ATP concentration and with low enzyme and substrate concentrations, according to Francois Degorce, head of HTRF marketing for Cisbio. He explained that customers want an assay that is amenable to such flexibility.

“We wanted to make a small, benchtop analyzer that was affordable so that everyone could have one in their lab.”

According to the company, the kit has been validated on 59 tyrosine kinases. In addition, Degorce said the platform is very homogenous and can easily transition to other kinases. “Sometimes we are not even aware of specific kinases, but our customers are willing to see which ones are compatible with our HTRF KinEASE platform,” he said.
Degorce said that Cisbio has stepped up its advertising campaign and is attending trade shows to promote the expanded application. 
Degorce told CBANews that Cisbio has worked with Millipore to develop the extension. “We initiated the partnership with Millipore two to three years ago, because [Millipore subsidiary] Upstate is such a leader in the field of kinase screening,” he said.
In fact, the KinEASE expansion comes as Millipore is launching its GPCRProfiler service platform.
Degorce also said that customers want more sophisticated assays that look at the actions of kinases as they take place within the cell, and provide a more realistic physiological model. To that end, Degorce said that Cisbio is collaborating with the Genomics Research Institute of the Novartis Foundation to develop such assays. He declined to elaborate on the partnership.
Thermo’s New Hardware and Software Upgrades
Also at SBS, Thermo Fisher Scientific launched upgrades to its cellular-analysis hardware and software modules. (See Feature Story this issue)
The company’s HCSExplorer uses Web-based technology to facilitate rapid data access and analysis. It provides tools for data visualization, image comparison, and can be used with any data store.
HCSExplorer users can annotate data and customize reports, Thermo said.
The brightfield module for the Cellomics ArrayScan V allows investigators to perform HCS using white light. “A lot of our customers do not use fluorescence or cannot use it, but still require image-based screening and quantitation,” said Mark Collins, senior product manager for informatics at Thermo’s Cellomics group. “So this product fills an emerging gap.”
Jeanette Minshall, manager of marketing communications for laboratory automation and integration and cellular imaging and analysis, said that Thermo Fisher does not plan to add to its sales force. Rather she said the company finds it very easy to communicate information about new products and other initiatives though user focus groups and its Web site.  

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