Bacteria biosensor makes its debut across the pond

Abbott grants LGC Europe’s first T5000 Biosensor System license

Jeffrey Bouley
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ABBOTT PARK, Ill.—In an early April deal, Abbott Laboratories agreed to license the Ibis T5000 Biosensor System to LGC, an international science-based service company headquartered in Teddington, Middlesex, U.K. LGC is the first European company to secure such a license, and it offers LGC exclusivity to develop non-clinical applications in the United Kingdom, while providing a non-exclusive license to develop clinical and food testing applications.

Under the terms of the agreement, LGC and Abbott will jointly identify and develop commercial diagnostic applications for the T5000 Biosensor System, an automated platform for the rapid identification and characterization of microorganisms that is currently used almost solely for research purposes.

Abbott completed a deal at the beginning of this year to acquire molecular diagnostics firm Ibis Biosciences—in which it previously held a 28.6 percent ownership stake—from Isis Pharmaceuticals for total consideration of $215 million plus earn-out payments so that it could secure access to the T5000 system. Abbott made clear at the time that while the system was research-oriented, it intended to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the system for clinical diagnostics applications, and the work with LGC is intended in part to help advance the system in that area.

According to Stafford O'Kelly, vice president of molecular diagnostics for Abbott, the company wants from the T5000 system an "innovative approach to the detection and characterization of a broad array of pathogens for the management of infectious diseases."

The platform technology for the T5000 system is based on "a cutting-edge combination of PCR and high-performance mass spectrometry," according Dr. Paul Debenham, director of innovation and development at LGC.

Along with Abbott's custom database of microorganisms, the Ibis T5000 is capable of identifying virtually all bacteria, viruses and fungi, and can provide information about drug resistance, virulence and strain type of these pathogens, Abbott and LGC explain. They add that the T5000 Biosensor System has already been deployed and endorsed by a number of U.S. agencies involved in pathogen and infection control.

Current applications for the Ibis T5000 Biosensor System include epidemiologic surveillance, monitoring of pandemic diseases, identification of emerging or previously unknown pathogens, forensic characterization of human samples and identification of sources of hospital-associated infections. Both companies expect to see it used for human infectious disease diagnostics as well.

LGC plans to build an entire microbial identification diagnostics service around the T5000 system, with Debenham noting, "LGC is delighted to be working closely with Abbott to offer services built on this technology. LGC already offers a wide spectrum of analytical diagnostics services and we are looking forward to identifying possible new application areas for this exciting new platform."

Debenham is optimistic about the prospects, noting that LGC's foundations as a measurement standards organization has traditional placed it well in efforts to provide products and services that enable its customers "to achieve results in challenging analytical and bioanalytical assays, from single analysis through to high-volume automated testing programs."

The deal was struck at a good time for Abbott, which reported "outstanding" results for its 2008 financials in late April and predicted a continued strong outlook—and it meshes well with the company's global outlook.

"Abbott had a truly outstanding year in 2008 across all of our major businesses—medical devices, nutritional products, diagnostics and pharmaceuticals," reports Abbott Chairman and CEO Miles D. White. "We delivered on our strategic, operational and financial goals, and strengthened our leadership positions across our range of global businesses."

Jeffrey Bouley

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