Deal is cut and dried

Luminex acquires automation firm BSD Robotics, expanding expertise in field of dry sample handling

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AUSTIN, Texas—Luminex Corp. has acquired BSD Robotics in a deal the company says will provide it with new technologies in automation and robotics in the field of dry sample handling. The firms did not disclose the acquisition price.

Privately held BSD Robotics, headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, operates in several markets, including newborn screening, forensics and human identification and molecular diagnostics. It is among the world's leaders in the design, manufacture and supply of high-technology laboratory instruments (and the associated software) used in the preparation, prior to processing, of biosamples dried on media. Established in 1991, BSD develops and markets both fully automated and semi-automated systems, such as BSD LaserCutter & BSD600V, now being released, which focuses on all new forms of bio-sampling devices, including plastic framed sample cards such as BioDisks, and buccal cell collection devices such as VibraSwabs and SwabGrips.

Luminex develops, manufactures and markets biological testing technologies, with a broad range of life-science applications based on its proprietary xMAP technology, which enables companies and laboratories to perform bioassays more quickly and cost-effectively than with other systems without sacrificing accuracy, says Russ Bradley, the company's vice president of business development and strategic planning. He notes that Luminex has been marketing the current generation of xMAP technology (formerly known as LabMAP) worldwide since 1999, and that thanks to its open-architecture platform, it can be applied across a wide range of markets.
Luminex's acquisition of BSD Robotics will provide the company access to new technology and products, an innovative development team, and an established presence in important strategic markets, Bradley adds.

"BSD operates in a unique space," says Bradley.

The technology uses sample cards, not vacutainers of blood. Drops of blood are spotted on Guthrie cards, which are the industry standard, and stacks of cards are sent to the lab. Circular punched cards are put in 96-well plates for analysis. For the newborn screening market, where BSD is very strong, Bradley stresses the importance of understanding the unique workflow.

"The industry comprises high-volume labs with states doing their own testing, so it's extremely concentrated," he adds.

Bradley cites Texas as an example, as the state has only one lab. It uses BSD for sample preparation and Luminex to test the analyte. The tests are required by law and number 29 in most states, and more in a few others. The diseases or defects include congenital adrenal hyperplasia, liposomal storage, thyroid function, IRT (cystic fibrosis) and others. Currently, the tests are done one at a time, but later this year, Luminex intends to introduce a "four-plex" system that will do four analyses per well. The automated system will take the plate, do the sample prep and analyses and read out the results.

"BSD is excited to become a part of Luminex," says Allan Morrison, managing director of BSD. "There is great potential to combine our technologies and expertise to create new products and reach scientists in many industry sectors, from genetic testing to animal health."

BSD will continue to serve its smaller forensics and human identification markets (paternity testing, for example) where Life Technologies now serves as its distributor.
Luminex's sales in 2009 were approximately $120 million and the company employs "north of 400 employees," Bradley says. BSD has "20 or so" employees. BSD will operate from its Brisbane base as a subsidiary of Luminex.

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