Firm gains electrophoresis and mass spec capabilities.

Agilent Technologies is picking up two companies: Lab901 for its electrophoresis equipment and consumables and Biocius Life Sciences, developer of the RapidFire™ high-throughput mass spectrometry drug-screening platform. Lab901 is based in Edinburgh, U.K., while Biocius is headquartered in Wakefield, MA.

Lab901 develops and markets a TapeStation benchtop electrophoresis instrument, ScreenTape plastic-based consumables, and associated reagents. The instrument produces fully analyzed results for protein, RNA, and DNA samples within as little as one minute per sample, according to Agilent and Lab901.

With its combination of automation, ease-of-use, and scalable throughput, the system is ideally suited for sample quality control in next-generation sequencing and gene-expression workflows as well as protein electrophoresis and DNA fragment analysis in core labs, the companies add. Customers include scientists in pharma/bio-pharma R&D and quality control as well as academic and government institutions.

“With the addition of Lab901’s outstanding technology and talented team, Agilent can now address customer needs across the entire span of electrophoresis life science applications, from semi-automated to 96-well-plate compatible workflows,” says Patrick Kaltenbach, vp of Agilent’s liquid phase separations business. “Alongside our existing BioAnalyzer platform and the Agilent G7100 Electrophoresis System, the Lab901 ScreenTape system provides a very versatile, automated, and scalable throughput gel electrophoresis solution for a wide range of applications.”

Launched in 1999, the Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer was reportedly the first commercially available instrument to use microfluidics technology for the analysis of biological samples. The 2100 Bioanalyzer is leveraged for RNA and DNA QC in microarray, qPCR, and next-generation workflows. Agilent has just recently extended the chip supply agreement for this platform and will continue to develop new applications for it.

Introduced in 2009, Agilent’s G7100 Capillary Electrophoresis System is compatible with various detectors ranging from UV to LIF (laser-induced fluorescence) to MS to CCDs. In particular the G7100’s seamless integration with Agilent’s comprehensive mass-spectrometry portfolio makes it a good fit for small molecule, protein, and metabolomics research and validation.

Biocius’ RapidFire drug-screening technology has successfully screened millions of compounds, providing results 10 to 100 times faster than traditional screening methods, according to Agilent. Using high-throughput mass spectrometry and innovative microfluidics, the RapidFire system enables researchers to gain a fuller understanding of a drug’s biochemical properties including potential liabilities in drug interactions.

“Biocius’ unique RapidFire technology gives customers an unsurpassed ability to increase the effectiveness and reduce the cost of drug discovery and compound identification,” says Gustavo Salem, vp of Agilent’s biological systems division within the company’s life sciences group. “With this technology and the team that developed it now part of Agilent, we can expand our reach in the pharmaceutical and clinical mass spec markets.”

Biocius was formed in 2009 as a spin-off from BioTrove. Its ultrahigh-speed automated valving, solid-phase extraction, and data-processing systems, when coupled with triple quadrupole or TOF/QTOF mass spectrometers, provide extremely high sample throughput for the biopharmaceutical market, Agilent points out. The company’s products include the Rapid Fire 200, RapidFire 300, and RapidFire 360 high-throughput mass spectrometry systems. Agilent and Biocius jointly announced the introduction of the RapidFire 360 in May 2010 at the annual American Society for Mass Spectrometry Conference. The RapidFire 360 is designed for high-throughput screening of in vitro ADME assays.

Agilent’s last acquisition was reported in January and closed last month. The company picked up A2 Technologies, primarily for its spectroscopy product portfolio. Headquartered in Danbury, CO, privately held A2 Technologies designs, develops, and manufactures Fourier transform infrared spectrometers for routine analysis and out-of-lab applications in the petrochemical, environmental, aerospace, art conservation, academia, and geosciences markets.

In July 2009, Agilent said it would pay $1.5 billion in cash for Varian. The deal expanded Agilent’s offerings in life sciences, environmental, as well as energy and materials. It also broadens its product portfolio into atomic and molecular spectroscopy and establishes a stronghold in NMR, imaging, and vacuum technologies.

In March 2010, Agilent sold certain Varian assests to Bruker, including the inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry instruments business located in Melbourne, the laboratory gas chromatography instruments business located in Middelburg, The Netherlands, and the gas chromatography triple-quadrupole mass spectrometry instruments business located in Walnut Creek, CA.

In February 2010, Agilent sold its Hycor Biomedical segment, which develops, manufactures, and markets in vitro diagnostic products for allergy, autoimmune, and urinalysis markets, to Linden. A few days before this deal Agilent divested its network solutions business to JDSU for $165 million in cash. The network solutions business includes network assurance solutions as well as network protocol test and drive test products.

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