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Proteome Sciences, Thermo Fisher to Collaborate on Protein Biomarker Discovery Workflows

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By Adam Bonislawski

This article has been updated from a version posted Sept. 23 to include comments from a Thermo Fisher official.

Proteome Sciences and Thermo Fisher Scientific this week announced a collaboration to develop workflows for protein biomarker discovery using Proteome Sciences' tandem mass tagging technology and Thermo Fisher's Orbitrap LTQ Velos and TSQ Vantage platforms.

The collaboration builds on an ongoing partnership between the companies. Thermo Fisher has licensed Proteome Sciences' TMT technology since 2008, and Proteome Sciences has been working with researchers at Thermo's Biomarker Research Initiatives in Mass Spectrometry Center in Cambridge, Mass., for the last three years on isotope dilution mass spectrometry assays.

Proteome Sciences plans to market the new workflows as a discovery service performed out of its ISO-certified Frankfurt laboratory and will also use them to develop its own proprietary biomarker panels that it will commercialize for research and, eventually, clinical use, Ian Pike, the company's chief operating officer, told ProteoMonitor.

Thermo Fisher, meanwhile, could benefit from having Proteome Sciences demonstrate the new workflows on its technology, Pike said, suggesting that it would "allow them to promote their products more effectively."

John Rogers, manager of mass spectrometry reagents at Thermo Scientific Pierce Protein Research, agreed, noting that Thermo Fisher and Proteome Sciences can now co-promote the TMT reagents with the Orbitrap Velos and TSQ Vantage instruments.

"Having the most sensitive, highest-performance hardware enables Proteome Sciences' service business, and it allows Thermo Fisher Scientific and Proteome Sciences to develop and optimize improved quantitative proteomics workflows through collaborative research," Rogers said.

Proteome Sciences will be working with researchers at the BRIMS center to build workflows around its ongoing efforts in neuroscience biomarker development and breast, lung, and colorectal cancer biomarker work that it plans to start. The company is currently working on blood-based protein biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease and on a methodology for measuring phosphorylation levels of tau protein in cerebrospinal fluid – both of which it plans to launch by year's end.

While the tests will initially be marketed for research purposes, Pike noted that "one of the purposes of the collaboration with Thermo Fisher is to start looking at how we could see these SRM methodologies transformed into the clinic."

In June, Cobham, UK-based Proteome Sciences announced a share placement and open offer to raise up to £6.9 million ($9.9 million). Pike told ProteoMonitor at the time that the money would finance the further development of tandem mass tag-SRM mass spectrometry assays for the company's proprietary biomarkers and for capital investment in equipment for its PS Biomarker Services division, including the purchase of several new triple-quad machines and a high-end discovery mass spectrometer such as an Orbitrap (PM 06/11/2010).

This week, he said that the announced collaboration was "a natural progression of that process," adding that "buying the Thermo Fisher [instruments] really allows us to integrate our two companies' visions of how to drive the proteomics space forward."

As for Thermo, the collaboration will help the company "better meet customer needs for quantitative proteomics," Rogers said. "The closer we work together to optimize and apply these workflows, the more successful our customers will be."

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