Addition of OpenArray technology to Applied Biosystems segment is expected to provide improved assay content.

Life Technologies is acquiring BioTrove, maker of the high-throughput gene-expression and genotyping-analysis system called OpenArray®. It is based on a flexible array format that enables researchers to perform more than 3,000 PCR genotyping or qPCR gene-expression assays at a time, the firms note. 

Upon completion of this transaction, the assets of BioTrove’s RapidFire business unit will be spun out into an independent firm called Biocius Life Sciences. The RapidFire segment has been focusing on developing a high-throughput screening portfolio to aid drug discovery  and enhance lead discovery and in vitro ADME. Biocius Life Sciences will continue to offer contract research services for lead discovery and CYP inhibition on the RapidFire platform as well as RapidFire instrumentation.

Life Technologies acquisition of BioTrove builds on a collaboration that Applied Biosystems, which is now part of Life Technologies, entered into with BioTrove in 2007. At that time, Applied Biosystems assumed responsibility for commercializing the OpenArray business for genotyping applications. 

“BioTrove’s technology is an important addition to our extensive PCR portfolio,” remarks Greg Lucier, chairman and CEO of Life Technologies. BioTrove’s platform allows samples to be validated against a large target panel or a larger quantity of samples to be screened against select validated targets. The technology is also used in markets such as pathogen testing and may enable future digital PCR applications. 

With the OpenArray platform, Life Technologies and its Applied Biosystems subsidiary will be able to provide greater assay content in a higher-density format. Applied Biosystems currently offers TaqMan® assays, more than 1.1 million for gene-expression and 4.5 million for genotyping applications. Both customer-specified and predefined panels of TaqMan assays will be available for the OpenArray platform under the Applied Biosystems brand. The format requires no additional investment by customers in costly liquid-handling automation. 

Over the last few months Life Technologies’ PCR business has made significant strides. In September, the company launched the MeltDoctor™ High-Resolution Melt reagents for research use only as part of a PCR-based workflow that enables researchers to scan DNA from a variety of biological sample types to detect the smallest genetic variations.

The company also purchased Cytonix for intellectual property related to digital PCR. Additionally, in April the FDA issued an emergency-use authorization letter to the CDC, allowing qualified laboratories to run the CDC’s H1N1 detection assay on an Applied Biosystems’ 7500 Fast Dx Real-Time PCR Instrument or the 7500 Fast Real-Time PCR Instrument.

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