A meeting of the minds for sample management

Companies combine biomaterial handling expertise in pursuit of sample management standardization

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CHELMSFORD, Mass.—Brooks Automation Inc. and Larkspur, Calif.-based BioCision LLC have joined forces to speed the development of technologies that can improve temperature control and standardization for biomaterials handling for industries such as preclinical and clinical research and product development. This is the first time the two companies have worked together.
BioCision brings its expertise in developing mobile temperature management products and technologies to the table, while Brooks Automation specializes in advanced research and production experience in automated systems for sample storage. Both companies’ research and product design and engineering teams will draw on their respective experience to develop new, highly adaptable and scalable products to meet existing sample handling and biobanking needs, both ones that can stand alone and others than are compatible with existing systems. In conjunction with this agreement, Brooks Automation has also made a $4 million equity investment in BioCision.
“We are very excited about our investment and joint collaboration with BioCision, which will link our current activities and strategy in the life-sciences market segment with their innovative products and technology,” Dr. Steve Schwartz, CEO of Brooks Automation, commented in a statement. “BioCision’s focus on addressing major unmet needs in research and cold chain management has led them to impressive year-over-year revenue growth. Our investment in BioCision launches a relationship with joint product opportunities that have a great potential to be integrated with our existing technology platforms.”
“On a global scale, industries and research centers that use biomaterials have demanded a solution that bridges the gap between outstanding storage capabilities and highly precise and automated systems for sample handling. By uniting the proven capabilities of BioCision and Brooks Automation, this collaboration supports development of a new generation of advanced solutions that will set entirely new performance benchmarks in temperature control and sample standardization,” Dr. Rolf Ehrhardt, CEO of BioCision, said in a press release.
There is a phenomenon in the industry, Ehrhardt says, in that while biobanks are heavily regulated and automated and quality controlled, “no one really knows how these samples get there, under what condition, under what temperature and, in addition, no one knows how they leave.” As such, there is a need for better sample management and standardization in the industry today. And that’s where BioCision believes they can help, Ehrhardt explains, because they can offer mobile temperature products that can bridge that gap.
Ehrhardt says that the areas of cell therapy and stem cell therapy are key areas in which sample management is of significant import.
“We believe cell therapy and stem cell therapy are great areas to focus on because this is the first time, probably, where the quality of the drug product is extremely important, and standardization, handling and the quality of the product is starting to be very important,” he explains. “The cell therapy drugs are extremely sensitive to temperature fluctuations and transport, so here you really have to make sure that they are being properly stored, transported and processed, otherwise you get a different drug product every time … like no time before, the handling of the drug in cell therapy is very important.”
Among BioCision’s offerings are the CoolCell cell freezing devices, which the company says have become an industry standard for cell cryopreservation in clinical and research applications. On April 21, the company announced that TxCell, which focuses on the development of personalized cell-based immunotherapies for the treatment of severe chronic inflammatory diseases, will be using several of BioCision’s products in a Phase 2b cell therapy clinical trial, including the CoolCell freezing device and CoolBox ice-free cooling workstations. Brooks Automation announced Jan. 21 the next generation of its automated systems for sample and biological storage, which feature components such as storage for dry powder, small-molecule and DNA samples, multimillion-tube storage capacities and simple integration with IT/library information management systems.

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