NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Olink of Uppsala, Sweden, announced this week that it has reorganized into two separate companies — Olink Proteomics and Olink Bioscience.
While Olink Proteomics will continue work on the company's Proseek Multiplex protein detection system, Olink Bioscience will focus on developing and commercializing other portions of the company's IP portfolio, Peter Åsberg, Olink Bioscience's newly appointed CEO, told GenomeWeb this week.
Essentially, he said, any technologies designed for measuring proteins in solution would fall under the purview of Olink Proteomics, with the rest of the former company's IP, including methods for genomic and in situ protein analysis, going to Olink Bioscience. He noted that Olink Bioscience is in fact the original Olink firm, while Olink Proteomics is technically a spinoff.
Founded in 2004 to commercialize technologies developed by the lab of its co-founder Ulf Landegren, a researcher at Uppsala University, Olink has spun off a number of companies over the course of its history. For instance, in 2008, it formed Olink Genomics, which later became Halo Genomics and was subsequently acquired by Agilent Technologies. Also in 2008, the company spun off infectious disease molecular diagnostics company Q-linea.
With Olink Proteomics taking over the ProSeek platform, Olink Biosciences will now turn its focus to other technologies emerging from the Landegren lab.
Åsberg said the decision to split the company into two came from the desire of Olink management to focus primarily on development of the Proseek platform. At the same time, he noted, they wanted to continue work on various other aspects of the company's IP portfolio.
"So this lets them stay focused on the Proseek platform, while we now have the luxury to look into the next product or product concept that we want to develop," he said.
The move is the second by Olink in recent months aimed at narrowing its focus to Proseek. In October, it sold its Duolink product portfolio to Sigma-Aldrich, which had distributed reagents for the assay since 2013.
Duolink is based on the company's proximity ligation assay (PLA) technology, which uses pairs of antibodies attached to unique DNA sequences to detect proteins of interest. When the antibodies bind their targets, the attached DNA strands are brought into proximity and ligate, forming a new DNA amplicon that can then be quantified using real-time PCR. The quantity of the DNA corresponds to the quantity of the target protein.
Because two antibodies must bind for a signal to be generated, the assay significantly reduces background, which ups sensitivity and specificity of detection.
The Proseek platform is based on a similar technology, Olink's proximity elongation assay (PEA), which likewise uses pairs of antibodies linked to DNA strands that, upon antibody binding, are brought into proximity. They are thenextended by a DNA polymerase that creates a new sequence that can be used as a surrogate marker for the target protein.
Olink began selling Proseek as a single-plex assay in 2011, launching a 96-plex version in March 2013. In 2014, the company signed a co-marketing deal with Fluidigm, through which it offers the 96-plex assay on Fluidigm's BioMark HD real-time PCR platform, which allows researchers to measure in a single run the levels of up to 92 proteins in as many as 96 samples.
As a new entity, Olink Proteomics will continue work on the multiplex immunoassay biomarker discovery panels that have been among the company's areas of focus in recent years. To date, the company has released assay panels for biomarker discovery in inflammatory disease, cardiovascular disease, oncology, and neurology.
In total, the company's marker panels cover more than 440 proteins, putting it ahead of other biomarker discovery panels in terms of content, like Myriad RBM's Human DiscoveryMap, which features around 300 assays, but behind panels like SomaLogic's SomaScan, which covers more than 1,300 proteins.
On the Olink Bioscience side, Åsberg said that he and his colleagues were currently reviewing the company's assets to determine what technologies were the most promising candidates for commercialization. He said the company had identified an initial product it is working to develop, but he declined to be more specific, saying that it was too early in the process. He did note, though, that the firm was interested in developing liquid biopsy technology.
With regard to that interest, Åsberg noted that Olink's technologies could enable more rapid and sensitive molecular measurements. He declined to discuss specific methods, but Landegren and his colleagues are working on techniques such as super rolling circle amplification that could enable highly sensitive and rapid detection of target DNA, RNA, or protein molecules.
The researchers also recently presented a new method for multiplexed, single-cell detection of RNA and protein simultaneously.
Prior to taking over as CEO of Olink Bioscience, Åsberg held management positions at pharma services firm Aegate and drug maker Cadila Pharmaceuticals and was CEO of biotech firm BioChromix.
Olink Bioscience is currently self-funded and has seven employees, he said. Both it and Olink Proteomics are headquartered in Uppsala.