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Beckman's Cogenics Buy to Add CLIA Lab, Geographic Reach, More Services to Agencourt

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Beckman Coulter's acquisition of Clinical Data's Cogenics division, announced last week, will add more services, a wider geographic reach, and a CLIA-certified lab to its Agencourt Biosciences business.

Up until now, Agencourt has been focusing primarily on DNA sequencing services and nucleic acid purification products. The company, based in Beverly, Mass., is equipped with more than 30 ABI 3730xl sequencers, two Roche/454 GS FLX instruments, two Applied Biosystems SOLiD 3 instruments, and a recently purchased Illumina Genome Analyzer II.

In fact, Agencourt, which has approximately 105 employees, is located in the same building as Life Technologies' research facility, the former Agencourt Personal Genomics, which developed the SOLiD platform.

For its part, Cogenics brings to the table Sanger and 454 sequencing, sample preparation, genotyping, gene-expression analysis, biological efficacy and safety testing, and a biobanking facility.

Beckman will acquire Cogenics' facilities in Texas, North Carolina, France, the UK, and Germany. According to the Cogenics website, the unit, which employs more than 200 people, combines operations from the former Genaissance, Lark, Icoria, Genome Express, and Epidauros.

Under the terms of the agreement, scheduled to close this month, Clinical Data will receive approximately $2 million from Cogenics immediately before the sale and $15.4 million from Beckman at closing.

Two years ago, Cogenics installed a 454 GS FLX platform at its Genome Express sequencing facility near Grenoble, France (see In Sequence 4/3/2007). It also provides Sanger sequencing services at its facilities in Houston and near London.

In addition, Cogenics maintains a CLIA lab at its North Carolina location. While Agencourt currently offers sequencing for FDA submissions, and operates under Good Laboratory Practices, 21 CFR Part 58, as required by the FDA, it does not have an ISO or CLIA laboratory at the moment.

"By combining the expertise on a comprehensive range of services offered by both companies, we feel that we will be better able to meet the needs of our customers, in both the research market, which is the market that we primarily serve today, and in regulated environments," Julie Moore, Agencourt's director of strategic marketing, told In Sequence this week.

Agencourt had made a strategic decision to expand its range of services and to expand globally, she said, and acquiring Cogenics is an effective way to achieve this goal.

The company also hopes that its Solid Phase Reversible Immobilization, or SPRI, DNA-purification reagents will find more widespread use in Cogenics' labs for preparing samples for genomic analysis.

"Agencourt was founded on the SPRI technology, and it gave us an advantage for the Sanger sequencing by producing a pipeline upfront of the sequencing," Moore said. "And we anticipate that we will be able to build similar pipelines for many of the different technologies" that Cogenics offers.

Beckman and Agencourt have not yet decided how to integrate Cogenics and its locations. After the deal has closed, the company plans to form an integration team "that will determine what is the best way forward for the new company," Moore said.

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