Life science tools supplier Abcam will pay £18.5 million ($28 million) cash to acquire Firefly BioWorks, the developer of a multiplex assay platform for biomarker detection. Developed by the company’s founders Davide Marini, Ph.D., and Daniel Pregibon, Ph.D., while studying at MIT, the platform is based on microfabrication technology and has advanced its first product for detection of microRNAs (miRNAs).

According to Alan Hirzel, CEO of Abcam, the companies will work together to “offer researchers access to a novel technology that will enable them to assess the role of miRNA in a broad range of areas including epigenetics and cancer biomarker discovery, as well as generally across biological research.”

By adding an IP-protected, multiplex assay capability, Firefly will strengthen Abcam's fast growing kits and assays business, the company said. The firms also see potential in combining Abcam's RabMAb® technology with Firefly's assay capability to provide multiplex protein measurement.

In September 2014, Abcam outlined a strategy to establish new growth platforms. The company signed a 10-year strategic marketing agreement with Cell Marque for Abcam’s in vitro diagnostic immunohistochemistry RabMAb primary antibody portfolio. In the same month, it also entered an exclusive license, supply, and distribution deal with Children’s Cancer Institute for multidrug resistance protein 4 (MRP4/ABCC4) inhibitors Ceefourin™ 1 and Ceefourin 2, for cancer therapeutic research.

Firefly has 15 employees and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of January.