FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J.—BD Diagnostics announced in early May that it had acquired German proteomics and instrumentation provider FFE Weber GmbH. The purchase gives BD a foothold in the growing proteomics research market as well as a technology the company feels could become an important diagnostic tool in the coming years.
At the heart of the acquisition is Weber's free flow electrophoresis (FFE) instrument system and associated IP which BD says can improve accuracy and sensitivity of protein separation.
"Think of this as our entry into the proteomics space," says William Kozy, president of BD diagnostics. "The protein separation technology we have acquired provides an important preanalytical separation step that will help proteomic researchers find, characterize and validate new classes of biomarkers."
Initial targets for the FFE system are the 1,500 or so core labs conducting proteomic research worldwide. While the FFE technology has been around for more than 20 years, Kozy refers to the introduction of Weber's Prometheus FFE system as a "launch" because of the vast improvements made to the process via the application of Weber's IP.
"We were very interested in the technology when they launched, but were even more interested when we talked to them and found out their plans for the next three or four generations," says Kozy.
While the initial focus for the instrument will be on research labs, it is clear that BD Diagnostics sees potential for the associated technology to become a diagnostic tool.
"For the next several years, the BD diagnostics group will use the capabilities of the existing instrument to create awareness and understanding of its protein separation applications in the research segment," says Kozy. "I am emphasizing the protein separation capabilities because if this technology ever starts a migration toward routine clinical diagnostics, there are grounds for a theory saying that separation would be a critical element of that migration.
While Kozy won't predict that migration will ever occur, he does say that potential "is the basis for out long-term interest. Where this is going and where it will end up, we don't know the answer. But the point is, you won't find the answer unless you are there and this gives us the chance to be there in the middle of this proteomic application science that will emerge in the coming years."