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Human Genome Project creates new applications for revolutionary combination of informatics and high-speed bioanalytic screening tools on a compact disc.
Acquisition strengthens TECAN’s position as a supplier of cost-effective, high-throughput solutions.
Hombrechtikon (Zurich), Switzerland/Boston, Massachusetts 21 July 2000 – TECAN, a leading global provider of laboratory automation systems for the life sciences industry, today announced that it has acquired the assets, intellectual property (patents) and hired the key personnel of Gamera Bioscience Corporation, a Boston-based, high-tech company that specializes in the development of miniaturized “lab on a chip” high-throughput assays. This acquisition gives TECAN access to Gamera’s breakthrough micro-fluidics technology, LabCD™, now in the final stages of development. TECAN will pay USD 10 million under the terms of the acquisition, including all transaction costs.
The LabCD™ is a consumable compact disc with micro-scale fluid paths, reaction chambers and valves. Fluid is moved along these pathways by capillary action and centrifugal forces generated by disc rotation, allowing the processing of many different assay types. Software is encoded on another layer of the same disc, allowing researchers to record and analyze data from the micro-fluidics layer generated by standard bioassay detection methods. Because the LabCD™ can accommodate a wide range of pressures, flow rates and fluid types, hundreds or even thousands of high-throughput processes can be performed simultaneously on a single disc. The combination of informatics, bioassays and miniaturization are what make this “laboratory on a disc” truly revolutionary.
“This is exciting technology with enormous market potential,” said Emile Sutcliffe, CEO of the TECAN Group. “Pharma and biotech companies are spending USD 5-6 billion annually in drug discovery R&D. The LabCD™ can perform many of these tests at a fraction of the cost of traditional assays and with much less hands-on time. There are clear synergies in integrating this technology with our existing laboratory automation systems such as the Genesis Workstation, strengthening our portfolio considerably. We expect the LabCD™ to be ready for product launch in 1½ to 2 years.”
“With this acquisition, TECAN is making its entry into the consumables market segment, in line with our strategy to expand into higher value added areas of the life sciences industry.” Mr. Sutcliffe added.
The completion of the first stage of the Human Genome Project creates additional upside market potential for the LabCD™. As Genome projects lead to the identification of new targets for potential drugs, demand will increase for ultra high-throughput testing that can be done quickly and cost-effectively on a micro-scale level. With the LabCD™, less manual labor and smaller amounts of the test compound and reagents are needed, resulting in significant savings.
One particular area of high-throughput testing in which TECAN expects widespread application for LabCD™ is the battery of tests on living cells known as ADME-tox (Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, Excretion, toxicity) used by all pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Other potential applications are in genomics (DNA extraction), proteomics and diagnostics. Untapped markets for LabCD™ in other industries include agriculture and nutrition, which also depend on high-throughput testing.