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Bio-Rad to Launch First PCR-based MDx Platform in Coming Month, CEO Says

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Bio-Rad Laboratories plans to launch its first PCR-based molecular diagnostics platform sometime in the next month, the company's CEO said at an investor conference held this week.

Speaking at the UBS Global Life Sciences conference in New York on Monday, Bio-Rad Laboratories President and CEO Norman Schwartz told attendees that Bio-Rad planned to launch the platform to test for sexually transmitted diseases. The new system will be based on an existing Bio-Rad real-time PCR detection system, though which one is unclear.

Schwartz said that Bio-Rad was a "strong number two" in the PCR research market; and that the company was "finding its way into diagnostics" – a voyage that he said started approximately two years ago.

Schwartz provided few other details on the anticipated launch. Responding to a request from PCR Insider for additional details, Schwartz confirmed that the platform would be PCR based and that it would be for identifying STDs, though he didn't name specific diseases.

He also said the platform would compete with both PCR- and non-PCR based diagnostic testing platforms. Following the conference, Schwartz told PCR Insider that the platform would be based on an existing instrument system but would be "a little bit different." Lastly, Schwartz said that development of the platform was taking place in Bio-Rad's facilities in France. Following the conference, a Bio-Rad spokesperson was not able to provide further details on the new platform before press time.

In an investor breakout session following Bio-Rad's UBS presentation, when asked about potential acquisitions for the company, Schwartz said that now that Bio-Rad has gotten more into the diagnostics space, "its preference would be to do something in the life science reagent area;" and that the company was "looking at a couple of opportunities" within that space, though he didn't elaborate.

Bio-Rad has long been known for its PCR research instrumentation, and the company also has a diagnostics play centered mainly on immunohematology. However, the company hasn't yet forayed into the molecular diagnostics space.

Among Bio-Rad's PCR instrumentation offerings are the CFX384 and CFX96 real-time PCR detection systems; the MyiQ2 two-color real-time PCR detection system; and the MiniOpticon two-color real-time PCR detection system.

In January, the company launched the CFX automation system, an automated front-end for the CFX384 and CFX96 based on Caliper's Twister II microplate handler, which Bio-Rad is distributing under an OEM agreement (PCR Insider, 1/7/2010).

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