Epic developments are in the works

Corning and PerkinElmer collaborate on development of label-free detection technologies

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CORNING, N.Y.—Widely considered leaders in the drug researchand development tool arena, Corning Inc. and PerkinElmer Inc. are embracing theadvent of label-free technology with a partnership aimed at deliveringnext-generation detection platforms for life science research.
The strategic agreement, announced Oct. 28, combines thecompanies' expertise in optical label-free and multimodality detection and seeksto advance the development of next-generation, label-free technologies—toolsthat are targeted at addressing many of the challenges in early-stage leadoptimization in the drug discovery process. Financial terms of thecollaboration were not released.
Specifically, Corning and PerkinElmer will develop anext-generation, multimode reader platform with label-freecapabilities—technology that is becoming increasingly more popular amongresearchers and scientists who are seeking to minimize some of the costs, timeand analysis hindrances inherent in early-stage lead optimization (see Label-free: The way to be?).
Many scientists have been using Corning's Epic system andhave been pleased with the biological discoveries enabled by the technology,says Ron Verkleeren, Corning's Epic business director. Epic is ahigh-throughput, label-free screening platform based on optical biosensortechnology. The system performs both biochemical and cell-based drug discoveryapplications and offers drug developers the ability to evaluate promising newdrug targets. It also allows for the observation of direct biologicalinteractions not previously detectable in high-throughput applications.
Now, with the addition of PerkinElmer's multimode detectioncapabilities, both companies' customers will be able to test out this advancingnew technology, Verkleeren says.
"When we launched our initiative in label-free technology,we did so with the hypothesis that it would have some benefit in the area ofbiomedical applications," Ron Verkleeren says. "What we found is that thetechnology has much broader applications than we anticipated. I think thiscollaboration is going to allow some of the investments we have made to haveeven more of a significant impact. By working together, you can often have a largerimpact than any one organization can have. Combining our expertise with that ofPerkinElmer is going to result in some very exciting products."
Nance Hall, vice president and general manager of theAutomation and Detection Solutions business at PerkinElmer, says the companydoes not see label-free technology as a total replacement over traditionalresearch methods, but rather, a powerful complement to PerkinElmer's labelingtechnology.
"In order to be able to continue as a market leader as aprovider of solutions to this particular space, it is important that we areengaged across all development schemes," Hall says. We want to be able to offerboth labeled and label-free technology in our detection and instrumentationcapabilities because it offers the best of both worlds. We believe ourresearchers will be able to decide which technology works best for theirparticular research."
The collaboration is one intended to help accelerate theevaluation and adoption of this new technology, Hall adds.
"If evaluating a new technology has either a cost orsingle-mode barrier, it can be difficult to determine if you should use it,"she says. "If you enable easier access, and make the technology cost-effective,you enable people to evaluate and implement it so that greater adoption mayoccur."
Verkleeren acknowledges that although we are still in thevery early days of label-free technology, it has the potential to look beyondwhat radiolabels and fluorescent assays have been able to achieve.
"Those assays are very good at looking at very specificinteractions, while label-free technology gives you a more global look atinteractions, almost enabling a systems biology perspective, if you will," hesays. "If you look at Corning as a provider of plastic cell culture ware orgeneral lab equipment, you could be perplexed as to why we're doing this. Thetruth of the matter is that Corning is all about inventing things. We believethat the inventions we are making around label-free technology are going to beimportant for the industry, and as a result, an area of high strategicimportance for both us and PerkinElmer."

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