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Aushon Moves SearchLight CLIA Lab, Manufacturing, Personnel to Renovated Mass. HQ

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By Justin Petrone

Aushon BioSystems last week said that it has completed renovating and expanding its headquarters in Billerica, Mass.

The array instrumentation and biomarker-discovery firm said the project included constructing new laboratory and manufacturing areas and relocating existing SearchLight personnel and its Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act-compliant laboratory operations from nearby Woburn.

Aushon in March paid an undisclosed sum to Thermo Fisher Scientific to acquire the SearchLight business, which includes a menu of protein arrays for biomarker discovery (see BAN 3/17/2009).

Aushon said it now offers a protein biomarker sample-testing service, custom arrays and assay development, chemiluminescent and infrared assay kits, its 2470 arrayer instrument, and custom microarray printing.

Joe Blanchard, Aushon's chief operations officer, said in a statement that the firm has been "experiencing strong demand" for its SearchLight panels, "especially in the clinical trials segment."

Blanchard said in a statement last week that the expansion "doubled" Aushon's capacity for multiplex immunoassay product manufacturing, as well as its testing and development services, and underscores the firm's "continued commitment" to its protein biomarker business.

Spokesperson Alan Poon told BioArray News in an e-mail last week that Aushon's new facility is now 22,000 square feet. The renovation and expansion project included the addition of 2,000 square feet to the firm's Billerica facility, plus the renovation of 12,000 square feet within the existing premises.

Poon declined to discuss how much the renovation project cost the firm. He said that 20 SearchLight employees joined Aushon as part of the March acquisition, and the "renovation and expansion was necessary" to relocate them to Billerica.

Poon added that it was "important … to ensure that the new laboratory and manufacturing areas were more expansive and incorporated greater levels of automation to enable us to increase capacity and performance, which is key to meeting the continuing demands of our customers."

According to Poon, Aushon is seeing demand for its products and services from "major pharmaceutical, biotech and diagnostic companies worldwide, as well as leading academic institutions."

Poon said that Aushon is particularly finding "increased demand from researchers involved in clinical trials in a variety of therapeutic areas, including oncology, inflammatory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases."

SearchLight was the protein array arm of Thermo Fisher Scientific, formerly developed by Fisher's Pierce Biotechnology business. Fisher merged with Thermo Electron in 2006 to create Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Aushon CEO Peter Honkanen told BioArray News at the time of the acquisition that Aushon acquired SearchLight because it offers "one of the industry’s largest menus of disease-targeted biomarker panels," and that Aushon could offer its customers a "virtual one-stop shop for their biomarker research needs — from microarray printing and custom assay development to biomarker testing services in a CLIA-certified laboratory."

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