BILLERICA, Mass.—Bruker Corp. has acquired Prairie Technologies Inc., a provider of life-science fluorescence microscopy products. The acquisition reportedly strengthens Bruker's position in life-science markets, adding to the Bruker Nano Surfaces Division's existing life-science atomic force microscopy (Bio-AFM) systems.
Headquartered near Madison, Wis., privately held Prairie pioneered the use of multiphoton fluorescence microscopy. Its multiphoton products are said to enable researchers to make “revolutionary discoveries” in neurobiology and cell biology. These products are essential tools for the government's “mapping the brain initiative,” states the Bruker news release announcing the acquisition. They allow researchers to image into the hippocampus of the brain and see the signaling process of neural networks that are involved in learning and memory.
“Prairie Technologies led the way in developing the multiphoton fluorescence microscopy field. Their products and innovations are impressive and have created an enthusiastic following of customers who have used their instruments to achieve groundbreaking results,” according to Dr. Mark R. Munch, president of the Bruker MAT Group. “Their Ultima two-photon microscopy product line and the new Opterra swept field multipoint scanning confocal fluorescence product line present new exciting areas of growth for Bruker, while providing significant synergies with our Bio-AFM offerings. Their addition will enable Bruker to enter the fluorescence microscopy market with popular multipoint scanning confocal, single-photon confocal and multiphoton products.”
According to Bruker, Prairie's products serve an addressable market that is estimated to be more than $150 million annually. Prairie has approximately 30 employees globally, and generated revenues of approximately $11 million in 2012. Bruker intends to operate Prairie Technologies as a business unit in the Madison area, and plans to leverage the global marketing, distribution and service capabilities of the Bruker Nano Surfaces division.
The Ultima is a point-scanning laser microscope designed for collecting fluorescence emission stimulated by a multiphoton laser. Compounds can be engineered into specific areas of the brain and remain chemically inert until stimulated by light. Thus, researchers can “uncage” the chemistry in a very localized region to understand how a local release of a chemical affects a cell process. The optics are similar to a confocal microscope except that they are customized to minimize the group velocity spread of the pulse packets and the detection of the emitted light is non-descanned. The system is ideal for imaging deep into biological specimens with fluorescence markers; for example, imaging 900 µm into brain tissue.
The Opterra is a multipoint laser-scanning confocal microscope. Image-collection time is shortened by exciting and collecting 32 points of light simultaneously. Also, photo-toxicity is reduced by shorter exposure times that result from faster scanning versus the traditional single-point scanning laser microscopes, making the Opterra ideal for live-cell imaging; for example, observing cell division and dynamic observation of fast cellular events.
The Bruker MAT Group (BMAT) was formed in 2012 as part of the company’s effort to consolidate 11 different divisions into three primary groups. The BMAT generates more than $500 million in annual revenue and is primarily focused on serving the academic and industrial markets. The two largest business units within the group, Bruker Nano Surfaces and Bruker AXS, represent nearly 70 percent of BMAT’s revenues.
“For over 17 years, Prairie Technologies has been committed to providing leading optical instrument designs and rich software features to researchers in neurobiology and cell biology,” remarked Mike Szulczewski, founder and president of Prairie Technologies. “We are extremely pleased to join Bruker, and look forward to continued innovation in the Bruker environment, as well as to enhanced global distribution and service capabilities for our customers.”