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Sweden's AlphaHelix, Techtum Lab Merge to Bolster qPCR Marketing Muscle

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Sweden's AlphaHelix Molecular Diagnostics said this week that it has agreed to acquire all shares in Swedish laboratory supply company Techtum Lab from parent company Labkompaniet, thereby merging AlphaHelix and Techtum.

AlphaHelix said that the merger gives it a complete sales and marketing organization with particular strengths in the PCR and qPCR areas, which will help AlphaHelix market its miniature PCR instrument AmpXpress.

As part of the transaction, AlphaHelix acquires all shares in Techtum Lab at a price of approximately SEK 6.8 million ($1.06 million), AlphaHelix said. As a result, the owners of Labkompaniet will control 63.7 percent of the new company, while shareholders of AlphaHelix will control 36.3 percent.

In a statement, AlphaHelix said that a key to the deal was the international network of contacts among distributors and manufacturers in the PCR and qPCR space that Techtum has built up over the past 20 years.

AlphaHelix CEO Lars Edvinsson specifically noted that Techtum has the knowledge necessary to provide distributors with information about applications, reagents, and product features necessary for selling AmpXpress.

AlphaHelix also said that part of its goal with the merger is to develop its platform for molecular diagnostics through the short-term establishment of AmpXpress sales internationally and by complementing AmpXpress with OEM-based instruments.

Based in Uppsala, AlphaHelix launched AmpXpress in 2009 to meet demands for lower instrument prices after it marketed a larger PCR instrument called QuanTyper for several years prior.

AmpXpress is a benchtop, rapid thermal cycler that uses the company's patented SuperConvection technology to perform 40 PCR cycles in 20 minutes using 24 samples of 20 to 100 µL per run. The instrument features real-time detection for qPCR applications and is approximately one-sixth the size and price of QuanTyper, according to the company.

AlphaHelix said that the platform's rapid test results make it ideal for certain clinical situations such as diagnosing meningitis and sepsis infections or detecting biothreat agents such as anthrax. The company also said that AmpXpress can help overcome PCR-inhibiting substances often found in degraded samples in veterinary diagnostics, forensic DNA analysis, food pathogen detection, and biosafety.

Currently, researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey are using the AmpXpress platform as part of a prospective cohort study funded by the National Institutes of Health on the relationship between the microbial pathogen Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans and periodontal disease in children, according to AlphaHelix.

Techtum Lab, based in Umeå, specializes in products for blood typing, DNA/RNA extraction, liquid handling, microarray analysis, small volume spectrophotometry, surface plasmon resonance, and PCR/qPCR.

Techtum was already distributing the AmpXpress platform prior to the merger, and has been a business partner of AlphaHelix for several years.

Techtum also distributes Illumina's Eco real-time PCR instrument under a previous distribution agreement between Techtum and Helixis, which developed the Eco's predecessor, called Pixo, before Illumina acquired Helixis late last year.

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