Specifically, the exclusive worldwideOEM agreement with be aimed at combining Waters' SYNAPT G2-S HDMSmass spectrometer—which was recently enhanced by the addition ofWaters' nanoACQUITY UPLC—with the TransOmics Informaticsdeveloped by Nonlinear Dynamics and introduced in May during the ASMSConference on Mass Spectrometry and Allied Topics in Vancouver.
Waters intends to begin shipping itsUPLC/SYNAPT G2-S HDMS-based instruments with TransOmics Informaticsduring the fourth quarter of this year.
As Nonlinear Dynamics ExecutiveChairman Will Dracup notes, the two companies have been working on anad-hoc basis in the field of proteomics for a number of years,"and it was a natural progression of that initial relationship thatstarted discussions on how we could work towards a more formalagreement."
In fact, Waters and Nonlinear Dynamicsgo back more than a decade, says Dr. James Langridge, director ofdiscovery in the Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences Discoverydivision of Waters Corp.
"Nonlinear had gel-based informaticsand Waters had analytical instruments that worked with gel-basedapproaches. They were separate products but we did a little workingtogether over the years to make them function more efficiently witheach other," he says. "Then about two years ago NonlinearDynamics developed a package to look specifically at LC-MS data moreeffectively and some of our customers were integrating data from ourinstruments into Nonlinear's software. So we started work on theidea of combining it together so customers could achieve even betteranalysis of the biological systems they were studying."
In the end, moving from an informal toa formal relationship was driven in large part by customer needs andthe suggestion from many of them that the companies officiallycombine their skills and technologies. But what really clinched thedeal, Langridge says, was a synergy between the two companies and a"common interest in state-of-the-art software packages."
"We've seen an increasinginterest—or perhaps more accurately a renewed interest—inmetabolomics," Langridge adds. "Metabolomics has been a slightlysmaller area than proteomics, but there is now renewed interest, andwe're particularly interested in developing packages that deal withboth proteomics and metabolomics data and results. We see a lot ofvalue in that for the future. We also wanted to develop a system thathad the scalability to deal with large numbers of biological samples,and by using an unbiased discovery approach users can see a completepicture at the molecular level."
Teaming up wascertainly helped by the fact that Nonlinear recently expanded intometabolomics from its well-established position delivering solutionsfor proteomics research, Dracup explains, adding, "This has meantthat the fit with Waters' new ACQUITY and SYNAPT offerings forproteomics and metabolomics is pretty much perfect."
It would be easyto say that Nonlinear brings the software expertise and Waters bringsthe hardware expertise, Dracup says, but also notes that would do adisservice to Waters' own LC and MS and data management softwareofferings.
"What Nonlinearbring to the party is world-renowned data analysis software and ourglobal acceptance as market leaders in quantitative analysis,especially for the large data sets that are needed to generatestatistically reliable results," he explains. "On top of that, welead the way in visualization—it has really given me a buzz seeingcustomers' jaws drop when they see how powerful ion mobility is in3D, in real-time, on their data."
Dracup says thefocus of the technology, as he sees it, will be on the discoverymarket initially, but he says the biosimilars market offers a lot ofpotential as well. "Nonlinear would like to build off our successin the discovery market by supporting this growing market better,"he says.
"A lot of theinterest for this kind of technology has been historically inacademic-based labs and research institutes. Pharma companies havebeen investing to a lesser extent in such technology, predominantlyoutsourcing a lot of that kind of work," Langridge notes. "It'sfascinating that as the capabilities of the overall system haveimproved, including the simple processing and visualization ofresults, the applications can spread to a wider market. In clinicalresearch, for example, there could be a lot of benefit to doingstudies with this kind of technology, to understand the underlyingbiology better and identify clinically relevant biomarkers."
Langridgeexpressed a strong interest in future Waters-Nonlinearcollaborations, saying that the companies are verycomplementary, "and we don't see this as a one-off situationwhere we just do a single product. There's a lot of synergy betweenthe two companies and our strategic directions and philosophies arevery similar."