Market focuses on high-speed, high-reproducibility arrays

1st April 2013

Each year, Frost & Sullivan gives a company of the year award that recognises outstanding management, consistent growth, and the ability to offer high quality products and/or services as well as have a positive social and economic impact on local and national communities. The award also highlights exceptional customer service offerings and the expertise to take advantage of market changes by capturing and solidifying market presence, or execute of innovative strategies within the existing competitive landscape.

Based on its recent analysis of the drug discovery technologies market, this year's recipient of the North American Frost & Sullivan company of the year award is Life Technologies.

Formed from the combination of Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems, Life Technologies is on a clear path to become its own unique organisation with unparalleled efficiency and speed of operation. More importantly, the reengineered Life Technologies promises extraordinary revenue growth that far outpaces the performance of its two predecessor companies.

"Prior to the 2008 merger, Applied Biosystems held the largest percentage of market share in the microRNA, PCR reagents, capillary electrophoresis sequencing, qRT-PCR, and life sciences mass spectrometry markets, while Invitrogen held the largest percentage of market share in the cell culture and protein expression and purification markets," explains Jonathan Witonsky, Industry Manager, Drug Discovery & Clinical Diagnostics, Frost & Sullivan. "By merging, the new company, Life Technologies, holds a significant market share in nine additional market segments, including the nucleic acid purification and isolation market, the laboratory information management systems market, the cell-based assays market, the research ELISA market, the high content screening market, the liquid chromatography market, the protein electrophoresis market, the RNAi market, and the proteomics array market."

F&W says that a US$300 million investment in research and development is likely to expand the company's position in the burgeoning markets surrounding advanced genomics, regenerative medicine, diagnostics, forensics, and environmental testing. For example, Life Technologies is building on its leading position in the capillary electrophoresis sequencing market by making a major play in next generation sequencing. By leveraging its Invitrogen brand of nucleic acid sample preparation technologies and Applied Biosystems brand SOLiD System for ultra-high throughput DNA sequencing, Life Technologies is expected to have a major role in bringing next generation sequencing to the medical realm.

However, the company's high-speed TagMan OpenArray technology is facing fierce competition as other manufacturers launch their latest array systems.

One such company is Synbiosis, a world-leading manufacturer of automated microbiological systems. The company has announced that its ProtoCOL automatic zone measuring system has new features, designed to improve the speed of analysing single radial immunodiffusion (SRD) plates.

The ProtoCOL can generate results from a 16-zone SRD plate of flu vaccines in minutes. This means scientists can analyse ten SRD plates in the time it would take to manually analyse one (Fig. 1).

The system's software supports 21CFR Part 11 and includes a gantry control, allowing automatic imaging of larger SRD plates when required. These innovative features make ProtoCOL ideal for increasing productivity in any GMP vaccine production facility.

A computer controlled, high-resolution CCD camera captures precise zone images and its new software automatically assesses not just two points from around the circular zone, as would be performed manually but simultaneously analyses multiple points. The software then rapidly calculates a precise average diameter measurement to provide an accurate indication of vaccine potency.

The highly reproducible results are automatically transferred into Excel or to a LIMS system for storage or statistical analysis where a vaccine's batch number or name can be entered into the ProtoCOL software. An image library is also created alongside, permitting staff to see an SRD plate if there is a query after it is disposed of. These files ensure producing raw data and professional reports for each flu vaccine, as and when required by regulatory authorities, is a simple task.

Martin Smith of Synbiosis commented: "The market for flu vaccines is very competitive and there is only a short time when there is a large product demand. Therefore, pharma and biotech companies that can have their vaccines available first, have a clear advantage. Using our advanced ProtoCOL system will help achieve this because automating analysis of SRD plates means a vaccine's potency can be determined in minutes, rather than hours, thus reducing manufacturing timelines."

Following the launches of the xCELLigence RTCA SP Instrument and the RTCA MP Instrument last year, Roche Applied Science has now completed its xCELLigence Real-Time Cell Analyser product line with its newest model, the RTCA DP Instrument.

The xCELLigence system measures impedance-based signals both in label-free cellular analysis and in cell invasion/migration assays. The new RTCA DP Instrument (DP is short for dual plate) is applicable for flexible mid to high throughput research assays and uses up to three 16-well plates for simultaneous experiments (Fig. 2). In contrast, the RTCA SP and MP systems cover the demand for low and high throughput, respectively.

The new RTCA DP instrument provides real-time cellular analysis with a high level of flexibility for cell science researchers carrying out parallel short-term (hours) and long-term (days) assays using label-free, non-invasive impedance measuring.

The three 16-well plates of the RTCA DP Instrument can be operated flexibly by three different users; each 16-well E-Plate can be monitored and analysed independently. Thanks to its small size, the RTCA DP Instrument with 16-well E-Plates can be placed in standard carbon dioxide incubators, making it easy to achieve optimum cell culture conditions.

xCELLigence RTCA instruments monitor cellular responses continuously without exogenous labels by measuring electrical impedance. Microelectrodes integrated in the bottom of specially engineered tissue culture E-Plates measure changes and provide precise quantitative information about the status of cells, including cell number, cell adhesion, cell viability, and cell morphology.

Continuous impedance monitoring of cell responsivity allows researchers to pinpoint important experimental time points for more detailed downstream assays. Impedance measurements represent a revolution in cellular surveillance compared to single conventional endpoint assays.

Meanwhile MDS Analytical Technologies has introduced six-channel and two-channel versions of the SpectraMax L, a new multiple photomultiplier-based platform for microplate luminometers designed for drug-discovery scientists who screen small molecules for biological activity and life sciences researchers who investigate protein-protein interactions (Fig. 3).

The six-channel system reads 96-well and 384-well microplates six times faster than conventional microplate luminometers. The two-channel instrument reads flash and glow luminescence twice as fast as conventional microplate luminometers, and enables bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET) assays for proteomics studies.






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