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Lab Auto Product Releases Target Integration; Amersham, Genedata Release New Software

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This week was a big one for proteomics product releases. Hordes of automation gadgets sprung out of the Lab Automation 2004 conference held in San Jose, Calif.: Beckman Coulter released four products, including a two-armed robot that competed with a similar recently released robot from PerkinElmer. This Biomek 3000 is designed to “automate genomics, cell biology, and proteomics,” Beckman representative Pauline Ngo told ProteoMonitor’s sister publication, GenomeWeb News. Meanwhile, Thermo Electron released a new protein purification bead system arising from a collaboration with Dynal Biotech.

Along the same integration lines as Beckman and PE, Genedata released Expressionist Pro — an upgrade of its existing microarray analysis Expressionist software that adds 2D gel, mass spec, and ICAT-based proteomics data to the original software platform. “Depending on how you have designed your experiment, you can directly compare the gene expression data to the protein expression data by applying the same analysis tool,” Melanie Markmann, director of marketing for proteomics at Genedata, told ProteoMonitor.

Markmann said that the software, which will be available for sale in March, was targeted particularly toward Genedata’s existing pharma customers. “We are emphasizing bigger pharma companies that have [both] in-house proteomics and DNA array groups,” she said. She said interest so far from established pharma customers was high. “A big problem [before] was that people have to learn to use different tools in different groups,” she said. “Now they can have everything centralized.”

Another software release this week came from Amersham Biosciences, which announced the availability of an updated version of its ImageMaster 2D gel analysis software, following right on the heels of Nonlinear Dynamics’ release of upgraded 2D analysis software last month (see PM 7-25-03, 1-16-04).

In describing their upgrades, both companies emphasized the new spot detection capabilities of their respective software and each claimed their upgrades can significantly speed up analysis time with less user intervention.

Nonlinear and Amersham ended a non-exclusive licensing agreement last July, when Amersham began an exclusive agreement for the use of GeneBio’s Melanie software.

Amersham is particularly emphasizing the new spot detection algorithm, which it says “significantly reduces the need for spot editing.” Said Richard Cumming, vice president of product management in proteomics at Amersham Biosciences in an e-mail, “We think it is one of the best detection algorithms available on the market, if not the best.” Because of this ability, as well as the new software's matching capabilities, Cumming said, the need for user intervention is “tremendously reduced.” This, combined with further automation, allows users “to complete the entire analysis process, including validation of results in less than an hour or two for a set of 10 to 20 gels,” he said.

John Spreadbury, Group Sales and Marketing Director for Nonlinear, played down Amersham's upgrades. “We don't see it as a new product. … From our testing, we can't see any changes,” he said.

Below is a list of new Lab Automation product releases.

— KAM

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