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PBI Reports 49-Percent Rise in Q2 Revenues, Plans to Focus on Mass-Spec Sample Prep

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By Adam Bonislawski

Pressure BioSciences this week reported second-quarter revenue rose 49 percent to $402,104 from $270,381 year over year.

The rise in revenues came primarily from sales of consumables related to PBI's Pressure Cycling Technology Sample Preparation Systems and an increase in the number of PCT systems that were sold as opposed to leased during the quarter.

In all, the company installed 12 PCT systems in Q2, the same number as in the year-ago period. However, eight of those installations were sales and four were leases, compared to six sales and six leases in Q2 2009. Sales of PCT-based consumables for the quarter increased 120 percent to approximately $33,000 from $15,000 last year.

PBI trimmed its net loss for the quarter to $796,651 from $814,049 the year before. Research and development spending dipped slightly to $304,143 from $315,046. As of June 30, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $1.68 million.

The PCT sample-preparation platform uses cycles of hydrostatic pressure from ambient to ultra-high levels to control biomolecular interactions. The technology is sold for extracting nucleic acids, small molecules, and proteins from a variety of sample types, including from animal, plant, and microbial sources.

The company has had the most success in marketing the device as a sample prep platform for mass spectrometry and plans to focus strongly on this market in the near term, founder and CEO Richard Schumacher told ProteoMonitor.

"The number of customers using our PCT platform in the workflow for mass spectrometry has increased dramatically in the last year, and so we're addressing that market particularly," he said. "In 2008 there were five labs that we clearly knew were buying [the PCT platform] to put it in front of their mass spec. In 2009 there were 15 labs that we clearly knew [were doing that]. And throughout the first half of this year, it's still our number one area."

PBI is currently seeking partnerships with larger companies to help with its sales and marketing efforts and expects to sign an agreement by the end of this year, Schumacher said. Given its current emphasis on the PCT platform's mass-spec sample-prep capabilities, partnering with a mass-spec vendor is a possible avenue for the company.

"We're talking to mass-spec vendors and we're talking to companies that don't sell mass specs but sell into the mass-spec market," Schumacher said. He declined to name any specific firms that PBI might partner with. In the past, Thermo Fisher scientists have undertaken studies investigating the use of PCT technology with mass spectrometry, one of which was presented in a poster at this year's American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting.

Another main area of focus for the company is applying PCT technology to extracting proteins from formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissues. In May it announced that it had signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, the American Registry of Pathology, and the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop pressure-based methods to improve biomolecule extraction from archival FFPE tissue samples (PM 05/28/2010).

Carol Fowler, senior research associate at the American Registry of Pathology, told ProteoMonitor that so far, PCT-based methods appear to be able to extract twice the number of proteins from FFPE samples as conventional techniques.

Fowler has been funded by the National Cancer Institute through next August to further develop high-pressure based methods for use with FFPE samples, and said she plans to focus on using the technology for investigating "proteomic problems such as looking at the appearance of different biomarkers" in the archived FFPE tissue.

According to Schumacher, since the CRADA was announced in May, several academic research groups have contacted PBI with regards to using the PCT system for processing FFPE samples. He said the company is working with one of the groups to validate PBI's FFPE data, an effort he said he hopes will be completed within the next 45 days.

Although PBI is not yet actively marketing the PCT technology for use with FFPE samples, Schumacher said he believes it represents "a very significant market."

"The biggest market here is clearly cancer," he said. "Most of the people who have called us since [the announcement of the CRADA] have been in the cancer area," he said. "If you're looking for biomarkers, the amazing thing about formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples is that there are a billion of them [worldwide], and you know the entire clinical history of the person behind that sample. You know what drugs they were on, the effects of the drugs, whether they went into remission or not."

The company will present additional results from its FFPE work at the BioPharm America meeting this September in Boston, Schumacher said.

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