Compucyte and the National University of Singapore this week said that they have jointly established a training and educational center in Southeast Asia for quantitative imaging cytometry.
The deal expands upon a previous collaboration between Compucyte and the university that had a distinct clinical research slant. It also underscores the idea that the primary market for Compucyte’s laser scanning cytometers may be clinical research areas such as biomarker identification, diagnostics, and even personalized medicine.
Under the terms of the latest agreement, the National University of Singapore will provide symposia and educational programs for researchers involved in cell- and tissue-based research using quantitative imaging cytometry systems, of which Compucyte offers several.
Compucyte will provide up-to-date technology and software, as well as technical and scientific applications support, according to a statement from the Cambridge, Mass.-based company.
As part of the agreement, the National University of Singapore has also “obtained” an iCys imaging cytometer from Compucyte, according to a statement. It is unclear whether Compucyte has realized revenue from this placement. Calls and e-mails to the company were not returned in time for this publication.
Under Compucyte’s previous agreement with the National University of Singapore, the company was developing assays and performing high-content cellular analysis using its iCyte and iCys platforms to study the effects of compounds supplied by the university on cancer cells and other unspecified cellular disease models.
As CBA News reported in 2004, those experiments were being conducted by Compucyte for the school at Compucyte’s labs in Cambridge. It is unclear whether Compucyte will continue to provide screening services for the National University of Singapore.
"We expect that the center will help educate cell and molecular biology researchers on the important role that quantitative imaging cytometry can play in biomedical research," Shazib Pervaiz, a professor of physiology at the National University of Singapore Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering, said in a statement.
"The ability to obtain detailed quantitative data from biologic specimens, and at the same time visually examine specimen morphology, provides researchers with a major tool for advancing our understanding of the molecular basis of disease and identifying novel disease signatures which could be potential diagnostic markers or targets for drug design,” Pervaiz said. “We look forward to working with Compucyte to jointly host this workshop on the use of automated laser scanning cytometry for both basic and clinical research in Singapore” and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Pervaiz’s comments seem to support the notion that Compucyte’s imaging cytometers are being used more in clinical research – in particular for examining cancerous tissue samples for biomarkers – than in the type of drug screening being performed with other cellular analysis systems.
"We expect that the center will help educate cell and molecular biology researchers on the important role that quantitative imaging cytometry can play in biomedical research."
The closest competing instrument in terms of design and capabilities to Compucyte’s “i” series is TTP Labtech’s Acumen Explorer, which TTP is marketing more to the drug-screening market. Compucyte’s instruments may even draw more direct comparisons to traditional flow cytometers such as those sold by Beckman Coulter, Becton Dickinson, and DakoCytomation, and which are primarily used in clinical research.
Indeed, a number of Compucyte’s sales have been to clinical research-oriented cancer biology centers, such as the Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Case Western Reserve University. And it is becoming clearer that the company does not play in the same space as high-content imaging vendors such as Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Cellomics, GE Healthcare, BD Biosciences, Molecular Devices, or Evotec Technologies.
In a statement, Elena Holden, Compucyte’s president and chief executive officer, said “our current focus is to explore the ability to cytometrically identify the signaling profiles of tumor cells, measure the biomarker profile of patients prior to treatment to determine their response to particular drugs, and monitor the pharmacodynamic effects of a wide range of novel drugs targeting specific signaling pathways.”
Compucyte said that the first symposium under the new agreement will take place on March 1, 2007, at the university.
According to Compucyte, the Southeast Asia Regional Center in Singapore is an extension of similar technology workshops in the US and Europe. It is unclear whether the company has dedicated education and training centers, but it has hosted similar symposia in the US at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Johns Hopkins University.