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PerkinElmer to Expand Proteomics Biz with Mass Specs, 2D Gel Alternatives, Biomarkers

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PerkinElmer will venture into biomarker discovery and 2D gel alternatives, and possibly add more TOFs to its mass spec lineup as it tries to dig deeper into the proteomics market following the February launch of its MALDI-based prO-TOF, company representatives told ProteoMonitor this week.

The company plans to take on its competitors in the market by offering the widest possible range of products, using an approach it calls “high content proteomics,” according to Sandra Rasmussen, the company’s business unit leader for proteomics and array systems. “We are one of the only — if not the only — companies that actually offer the full suite of products from imaging straight through to mass spec as a company-branded suite of products,” Rasmussen said. This wide scope “gives the customers the assurance that they’ve got a service provider that’s committed to their lab,” she said.

PerkinElmer will introduce its “high content proteomics” approach at the HUPO congress in Montreal in October, Rasmussen said. The approach involves integrating what she calls “analytical proteomics” — the identification and characterization of proteins with 2D gels and mass specs — with “functional proteomics” — the use of techniques such as in vivo imaging and protein arrays to characterize what the protein identified actually does. PerkinElmer already offers a variety of products for both the analytical and the functional side, including a gel-spot picking robot manufactured by Genomic Solutions under an OEM deal (see PM 9-30-02), gel image analysis software from a collaboration with Nonlinear Dynamics (see PM 9-30-02, 7-25-03), prO-TOF — a MALDI-TOF with an orthogonal interface — live cell in vivo imaging tools, and tools for making protein arrays. What Rasmussen hopes to do is integrate these tools while expanding the company’s offerings.

This integration strategy is dependent upon the success of the prO-TOF that the company developed as part of its 16-year-old partnership with MDS Sciex. Perkin-Elmer is now taking orders for the instrument with plans to ship this month. The company claims that the prO-TOF offers higher mass accu-racy and more ability to analyze intact proteins when compared with other MALDIs made by “credible players such as ABI and Bruker.”

Although Rasmussen said that PerkinElmer is “committed to the proteomics market specifically with TOF technology,” she left open the possibility of venturing beyond TOFs into tandem mass spec or higher-level machines such as FT-ICR. She also indicated that while MDS Sciex would continue to be involved in developing mass specs for the company, other collaborations might be sought as needed. “If there’s a partner out there that really complements what we’re doing, and if they’re a high- quality provider of the technology we’re looking for, we are very open to a variety of partnerships and collaborations,” Rasmussen said. Rasmussen also said that the company would be investigating ways to make content chips part of its protein array offerings.

PerkinElmer will not introduce any new products at HUPO, but Rasmussen said that the company would be releasing a product related to “pre-imaging and the imaging parts of the process” sometime in “the January time frame.”

Customers will, however, find at HUPO some pilot study results from PerkinElmer’s first research collaboration using the prO-TOF platform, in which a proteomics team led by PerkinElmer’s director of biochemistry, Mary Lopez, worked with genomics researchers at the Buck Institute of Age Research and the Rush Alzheimer’s Institute to identify protein and gene markers for Alzheimer’s Disease (see PM 4-21-03). Customers will, however, find at HUPO some pilot study results from PerkinElmer’s first research collaboration using the prO-TOF platform, in which a proteomics team led by PerkinElmer’s director of biochemistry, Mary Lopez, worked with genomics researchers at the Buck Institute of Age Research and the Rush Alzheimer’s Institute to identify protein and gene markers for Alzheimer’s Disease (see PM 4-21-03).

Lopez told ProteoMonitor that her group has now identified 39 differentially expressed proteins that she is in the process of correlating with the differentially expressed genes found by Simon Melov at Buck. “Many of those proteins are very interesting from the point of view that some of them are related to oxidative stress, some of them are mitochondrial proteins, and some of them are novel proteins,” Lopez said.

A paper describing the findings will be submitted to a journal sometime in November. Lopez will also give a seminar at HUPO in which she will present some — but not all — of the results. “The Alzheimer’s data are so new and valuable that we really need to submit them to a journal first before we can share them publicly,” she said. In following with PerkinElmer’s “high content proteomics” concept, the next step will be to use in vivo imaging to look at the proteins’ functions.

Building on the Alzheimer’s study, Lopez said that PerkinElmer is in the process of launching a “large biomarker initiative” that will likely focus on finding biomarkers for cancer and Alzheimer’s and will launch “definitely by the end of the year.” PerkinElmer is in talks with the NIH and in particular with the National Cancer Institute to develop research collaborations similar to the Alzheimer’s collaboration, in which PerkinElmer will provide technology and in-house expertise to collaborators in exchange for co-ownership of intellectual property and development of the platforms they use for commercialization. Although PerkinElmer cannot patent the proteins or genes found in the Alzheimer’s project due to the study participants’ wishes, the company will commercialize any resulting technologies or platforms developed during that study. In addition, Lopez said that a major goal of the larger biomarker initiative is to develop technology and platforms for biomarker discovery and diagnostics, which PerkinElmer can then commercialize. Lopez said, however, that PerkinElmer has no interest in becoming a drug discovery or diagnostics company.

In addition to the biomarker initiative, Lopez said her group at PerkinElmer also has “active initiatives to find alternative methods of separation and identification of proteins that do not use gels.” She said that in addition to the development of microscale spin columns, which she discussed with ProteoMonitor in April, her group is developing a fractionation platform that “extend[s] that sort of approach to a much more high-throughput platform that will interface with our liquid handling capabilities.” Lopez expects to introduce the platform within six months to a year.

— KAM

 

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