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Premier Biosoft Buys NuSep's ProteoIQ to Fill Proteomics Gap in its Product Portfolio

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Premier Biosoft said this week that it has bought ProteoIQ, a proteomic data-analysis software suite, from Australian bioseparations company NuSep for an undisclosed sum.

Premier, based in Palo Alto, Calif., bought ProteoIQ to expand its mass spectrometry data analysis product portfolio, Premier CEO Arun Apte told BioInform. He described the acquisition as a "strategic fit" for the company's existing mass spec offerings, which include tools such as SimGlycan, which is used to predict the structure of glycans and glycopetptides, and SimLipid, which is used to characterize lipids.

"We already have software tools that support mass spectrometry-based glycomics, metabolomics, lipidomics, and MALDI imaging workflows," he explained. "The only missing -omics workflows from our portfolio was proteomics" and "this gap was filled by ProteoIQ, a tool that provides complete mass spectrometry data analysis from qualitative to quantitative analysis."

He also told BioInform that his company opted to buy software rather than develop something in house because the market for proteomics software is already established and has multiple players. It made more sense, according to Apte, to buy an existing product rather than start from scratch and try to gain a market share with an entirely new product.

ProteoIQ is used for statistical validation, protein quantification, and comparative proteomics. It validates proteins identified by database search tools such as Mascot, SEQUEST, or X!Tandem using approaches such as the false discovery rate and protein probability. It also performs quantitative analysis using methods such as spectral counting, precursor intensity, tandem mass tags, and isotope-coded affinity tags.

Customers can purchase one of four ProteoIQ options, each of which is priced differently and offers slightly different features. Premier charges $3,750 for the ProteoIQ base package, $4,500 for the ProteoIQ isobaric version, $5,700 for the ProteoIQ isotopic version, and $7,200 for the ProteoIQ label-free version.

Premier's ProteoIQ will have to compete for attention from core proteomics labs and pharmaceutical companies with Scaffold, a similar software product from Proteome Software.

Apte believes that ProteoIQ will be the more appealing of the two because it offers some features that Scaffold does not. For example, ProteoIQ supports label-free quantitation — "the most popular and inexpensive method to quantitate proteins," Apte said — while Scaffold does not.

Scaffold also does not include protocols for things like isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation, or stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture, while ProteoIQ offers workflows for both, according to Premier.

Furthermore, Premier has "close relationships and reseller agreements" with instrument companies such as Agilent, AB Sciex, and Thermo Scientific, as well as a customer base in place for its existing products, Apte said.

In addition to marketing through its standard channels — conferences, mailings, and directly to its existing mass spec customers — Premier also plans to develop for its distribution partners instrument-specific workflows in ProteoIQ, which should also help improve its adoption rates, Apte said.

This is Premier's second acquisition. In 2011, the privately held company bought Redasoft, in an effort to expand its life sciences software business. Redasoft used to market sequence analysis software dubbed Visual Cloning, which provided vector map drawing capabilities, let users create graphical maps based on sequence data, and provided tools to analyze restriction sites and search for open reading frames (BI 8/5/2011).

However, Premier's product portfolio doesn't include the Visual Cloning software. That’s because the firm purchased Redasoft in order to "absorb competition and consolidate the market at the entry level for plasmid drawing and cloning simulation," Apte told BioInform.

He said that existing customers of the legacy Visual Cloning software now use Premier's SimVector, which provides capabilities for drawing plasmid maps, running restriction analysis, designing cloning experiments.

In addition to buying ProteoIQ, Premier is also developing two new software tools internally for the mass spectrometry market, Apte said. He declined to disclose details about one of the tools but told BioInform that the second product is called SimMet, and that it would be used to identify metabolites.

Premier expects to launch both products in the fourth quarter of 2013, Apte said.

The company is also planning additional acquisitions but Apte declined to discuss these as negotiations on those fronts are still ongoing.

BioInform reached out to NuSep for comments about why it decided to sell ProteoIQ software but received no response as of press time.

In a statement issued in January, NuSep said that it received an "unsolicited offer to acquire the non-core assets of its ProteoIQ software business" from Premier.

At the time, Prakash Patel, NuSep's managing director, said that the transaction would free up cashflow from the company's non-core software division and allow it to "apply these funds on its core consumables and [biologics]-related businesses."

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