Roche Applied Science, a business area of Hoffmann-La Roche, develops and produces innovative tools for the life science research market and for industrial use. During the last 15 years, the company shifted from only providing biochemical reagents and kits to also manufacturing analytical instrument systems for sample preparation, real-time PCR, sequencing, arrays, and cell analytics.
The life science market is advancing quickly, and innovative products that meet the needs of researchers are the key to success. Roche Applied Science’s product lines are well positioned for a long-term future in the marketplace.
Some time ago, Roche acquired NimbleGen and 454 Life Sciences. Both companies complemented Applied Sciences’ workflows, especially for pharmaceutical research: DNA sequencing enables the user to identify content for arrays, qPCR can be used to validate results out of array analyses. Another workflow example is NimbleGen’s sequence capture arrays enriching genomic regions for subsequent DNA sequencing. The technologies of NimbleGen and 454 Life Sciences have contributed to Applied Science’s worldwide reputation as a provider of innovative world-class technology.
Another part of Roche Applied Science’s business is Biochemicals/Custom Biotech. Applied Science’s biochemical products have a loyal following in the research community. Roche is also regarded as a high-quality raw materials provider for the life sciences, diagnostics, and pharmaceutical industry. Traditional Applied Science products are benefiting greatly from marketing interactions with Custom Biotech, which is targeting the industrial customer segment, and vice versa.
Nucleic acid purification and PCR instrumentation is also an important pillar of Applied Science, in which innovation will be the key to success. The recent on-time launch of the ultracompact LightCycler Nano Instrument was a magnificent accomplishment. First signals from the market are very promising. Another example is the MagNA Pure 96 System for automated high-throughput sample preparation, which had been launched for IVD at the end of 2011.
Roche Applied Sciences youngest product line is cellular analytics, fitting perfectly with the demands of the important Pharma R&D market. The instruments really make a difference, e.g., the new xCELLigence Cardio Instrument for 96-well plates. For the first time, it is possible to measure cardiac cell beating and proarrhythmic risk using a 12.5 millisecond acquisition rate. The impedance-sensor technology is finding increased acceptance for label-free cell monitoring.
The heart of the technology of the xCELLigence system is a microelectronic biosensor, which is built into each well of the tissue culture E-Plates. A cell that has contact with the sensor changes the electrical impedance between the microelectrodes. Each change in the cell’s status—for example, changes in cell adhesion, cytotoxicity, cell proliferation, cell-cell interactions, and morphological changes—leads to changes in the impedance measurements and can therefore be easily and quickly detected in real time. Labeling of the cells, which can induce nonphysiological changes in the cells, is not necessary.
This technology has a number of advantages in comparison to conventional systems. It is suitable for uninterrupted monitoring of processes in living cells and for monitoring real-time kinetics. The system supplies a densely concentrated stream of information and shows excellent sensitivity and reproducibility when monitoring the overall cell population of a cell culture.