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Dover's Polonator Unaffected by Danaher's Restructuring, Official Says

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This article was originally published Sept. 3.

By Julia Karow

Work on the Polonator, a second-generation sequencing system jointly developed by a group at Harvard Medical School and Dover, a Danaher Motion company, will be unaffected by a restructuring that Danaher announced last week, In Sequence has learned.

Apart from a consolidation of two buildings that had already been planned for several months, "there has been no restructuring impact to our Polonator efforts," Dover Chief Technology Officer Kevin McCarthy told In Sequence via e-mail.

Likewise, Danaher's plans to acquire the MDS Analytical Technologies division from MDS, as well as Life Technologies’ mass spectrometry business — another strategic move that the company announced this week — are unlikely to have an impact on Dover’s sequencing activities because those businesses will operate within a separate business segment of Danaher.

Danaher said that as part of plans to "accelerate" restructuring activities in 2009, it expects to eliminate about 3,300 positions and 30 facilities, resulting in annual cost savings of about $220 million. The restructuring will cost the company approximately $225 million to $250 million, up from an earlier estimate of between $150 million and $170 million.

As a part of Danaher's motion-control business, Danaher Motion, Dover falls under the holding company's Industrial Technologies segment. Dover has been developing the Polonator, a low-cost non-proprietary second-generation sequencing system, in collaboration with George Church's group at Harvard Medical School since 2007 (see In Sequence 12/4/2007).

This spring, Dover rolled out an updated version of the Polonator with a price tag of $170,000 and shipped an instrument to its fifth customer at the University of Utah (see In Sequence 5/5/2009).

Including early-access customers — the Church lab, the University of New Mexico, the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, and the Broad Institute — Dover had seven instruments installed at the time.

McCarthy told In Sequence last week that the company shipped its tenth instrument last month and has several pending orders.

In addition, he said, the firm's collaborators "have been doing remarkable things with library prep and read length," adding that he could not reveal more details because the results are unpublished.

Back in May, Jeremy Edwards, an early-access user at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, told In Sequence that he was working on improving library construction protocols and to increase the system's read length to 2x24 base pairs.

Rich Terry, who leads the Polonator development at Harvard Medical School, said at the time that the Harvard group was working on replacing the emulsion-PCR step in the sample preparation with rolling circle amplification colonies, or "rollonies." He and his colleagues were also exploring alternative sequencing chemistries to increase the read length.

Recently, Azco Biotech became a reseller for the Polonator in North America, providing — for a higher instrument price — training, support, and other services for the platform that Dover does not offer (see In Sequence 6/9/2009).

Separately, Danaher said last week that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the MDS Analytical Technologies division from MDS for $650 million, which includes half of Applied Biosystems/MDS Sciex, a mass spectrometry joint venture between Life Technologies and MDS, and Molecular Devices, a bioanalytical instrumentation business. Danaher also signed an agreement to acquire the other half of Applied Biosystems/MDS Sciex from Life Tech for $450 million. Both transactions are expected to close during the fourth quarter.

Both the Applied Biosystems/MDS Sciex and the Molecular Devices businesses will operate within Danaher's Medical Technologies business segment, which houses its Leica, Radiometer, Sybron, and KaVo businesses.

Danaher said it expects annual revenues from this segment to increase by more than $650 million to over $4 billion. Its annual revenues in life sciences and diagnostics — which currently includes Leica and Radiometer — are expected to increase by more than 40 percent to greater than $2 billion following the acquisition.

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