Qiagen was established in 1984 in Dusseldorf, Germany. The company initially focused on molecular biology with its Plasmid-Kit, which reduced plasmid preparation time from a few days to two hours. Then in 1996, it introduced the BioRobot 9600, a benchtop workstation to automate the purification of RNA, DNA, and proteins.
Today, more than 250,000 researchers and lab specialists in the United States use Qiagen products, and 2 million Qiagen assays yearly are processed by drug companies. Qiagen products are used in the research and development of 2,000 new drugs and in 1,000 clinical trials. Worldwide, Qiagen has more than half a million customers.
Now headquartered in Venlo, The Netherlands, Qiagen sells more than 500 products for pre-analytical preparation of biological samples, diagnostic assays, and instruments to automate entire work flows. The company’s customers include molecular diagnostic laboratories, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and academic researchers.
Qiagen’s assay technologies include a broad panel of molecular diagnostic tests, such as the digene HPV Test for identifying high-risk types of human papilloma virus (HPV).
In 2005, Qiagen expanded its portfolio from sample-preparation kits to molecular diagnostic detection kits. “It was a natural extension of our relationship with customers. If you provide them with kits to isolate a virus from blood, the next step is to provide assays and reagents to identify the virus,” says Ulrich Schriek, Ph.D., svp, corporate business development.
Qiagen develops assays and biomarkers for infectious diseases, cancer, and personalized medicine. “Our goal is to develop the broadest portfolio of assays,” says Dr. Schriek.
A key workhorse to meet that goal was introduced in 2009—the QIAsymphony SP/AS instruments and the Rotor-Gene Q (RGQ) cycler. This integrated system automates sample preparation and work flows. The QIAsymphony AS is ideal for laboratories that perform complex PCR-based molecular testing daily. Nucleic acids are purified on the QIAsymphony SP instrument, and then the samples are transferred to the QIAsymphony AS module, which performs assay setup.
Next, the RGQ carries out PCR and data analysis. Commercial assays and laboratory-developed tests can be combined with the QIAsymphony RGQ system.