Ciphergen sells BioSepra to Pall

Pall Corp. in late 2004 finalized the $32-million purchase of Ciphergen Biosystems Inc.’s process chromatography sorbent business. The acquisition of the BioSepra Process Division fills a crucial “missing link” in Pall’s extensive fluid management offerin

David Filmore
EAST HILLS, N.Y.—Pall Corp. in late 2004 finalized the $32-million purchase of Ciphergen Biosystems Inc.'s process chromatography sorbent business. The acquisition of the BioSepra Process Division fills a crucial "missing link" in Pall's extensive fluid management offerings to biotech and pharmaceutical industry customers, says Bill Palmer, Pall's senior vice president of planning and development. It also marks the beginning of a new collaboration between the companies in the process proteomics market.
 
"Pall has all of the other infrastructure to deal with the full [production-scale protein purification] process, but we really needed to have the resins to complete the total offering," Palmer says. The company plans to integrate the sorbent business with its filtration and chromatography system vessel products to provide customers with a "total fluid management" solution.
 
Current BioSepra products include expanded bed, ion exchange, size exclusion, and antibody capture sorbents amenable to large-scale processing.
 
Meanwhile, the sale frees Ciphergen to direct more of its energy to what it considers its core activities: ProteinChip biomarker discovery tools and its emerging pipeline of predictive clinical diagnostic and pharmacoproteomic products. Ciphergen's flagship platform, the ProteinChip System, which applies SELDI technology to enable selective protein retention and detection on chromatographic microarray surfaces, is currently marketed for research use in identifying disease or drug-response protein biomarkers. The company plans to release its first ProteinChip-based diagnostic test for ovarian cancer in 2005.
 
"Ciphergen will now be able to focus its Protein Chip resources on the growing issue of translational medicine and the business opportunities associated with this," Ciphergen president and CEO William Rich explains.
 
Following the company's acquisition of BioSepra from Invitrogen in 2001, Ciphergen initiated a new business it termed "process proteomics". By integrating on-chip versions of the BioSepra bead-based resins into the ProteinChips, laboratory-scale optimization of protein purification conditions could more seamlessly be transferred to the large-scale separation needs of therapeutic protein product production.
 
Although the BioSepra sorbent business experienced two- to three-fold growth during its
tenancy at Ciphergen, revenues decreased during each of the first three quarters of 2004. Both companies involved in the deal believe it might have better success under Pall, which already has significant inroads in the proteomics purification market with its membrane and fluid vessel products.
 
"They don't have that kind of access to market," Palmer says. "[But] it plays into our game plan extremely well."
 
Ciphergen isn't completely departing from the process separations market, though. Under a new collaboration, it's ProteinChip tools will be co-marketed with Pall's process purification products. Pall will also establish service centers in which the ProteinChips will play an important role in helping customers select and optimize production-scale purification conditions.

David Filmore

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