Qiagen plans to dive into the mass spectrometry sample preparation market by acquiring assets from LumiCyte and SuNyx, two firms providing protein sample-preparation technology for MALDI mass spectrometry.
The deals will enable Qiagen as early as next year to launch a brand of products designed to address customers' chip needs for their MALDI downstream analysis, according to Qiagen CEO Peer Schatz.
In the future, Qiagen might also develop chip-based diagnostic assays with a diagnostic partner, much in the same way Ciphergen allied itself with industry leader Quest Diagnostics, said Schatz.
"We looked at the mass spec market, the different types of mass spec applications people are running, and we saw that there were clearly some things people might be able to do better with the LumiCyte and SuNyx technologies."
Qiagen will pay up to $16 million for "key assets" from LumiCyte, including its Surface Tension Segmented biochips for MALDI mass spectrometry. Initially, Qiagen will pay $3 million in cash, followed by $4 million after 18 months and $5 million after 30 months, depending on whether financial targets are met. In addition, Qiagen may make a milestone payment of $4 million after 60 months.
SuNyx provides two sample-preparation platforms for liquid chromatrography MALDI mass spectrometry called MPep and MProtChip. Qiagen will pay up to $1.6 million in total for these assets, $800,000 initially and another $800,000 depending on certain milestones.
"We acquired them for very attractive prices, despite being very, very unique," Schatz told ProteoMonitor.
"We looked at the mass spec market, the different types of mass spec applications people are running, and we saw that there were clearly some things people might be able to do better with the LumiCyte and SuNyx technologies," Schatz said.
According to Schatz, most people currently use one of four ways to prepare MALDI samples: SS MALDI plates, Bruker's Anchor Chips, Ciphergen's SELDI chips, and LumiCyte's STS chips.
However, only LumiCyte's technology allows the sample to both selectively bind on the chip surface and be concentrated at the same time, he said. "This is why the STS technology has such a dramatic increase in sensitivity," he said.
SuNyx's technology complements this portfolio by providing sample preparation for LC-MALDI.
Starting next year, Qiagen will start a brand of products "that are going to address everything a customer needs in terms of the right chip for his MALDI downstream analysis," according to Schatz.
In the longer term, Qiagen might also be interested in developing chip-based diagnostic assays, possibly in collaboration with a diagnostic partner — not unlike Ciphergen, which recently signed a deal with Quest Diagnostics [see 7/29/05 ProteoMonitor].
Ciphergen of course not only provides sample preparation tools but also the mass spectrometry systems for analysis. "This is why we saw [LumiCyte] being so interesting, because this technology has such a dramatic increase in sensitivity and resolution that it becomes a diagnostically capable tool," Schatz said. "The elegance of doing everything that needs to be done on-chip is really a dramatic advantage."
Qiagen said it will provide further details on the acquisitions in its second-quarter earnings conference call on Aug. 9.
— Julia Karow ([email protected])