Getting with the flow

Millipore, Guava team up to create new flow cytometry solutions for the cell biology market

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BILLERICA, Mass.—Millipore Corp. and Hayward, Calif.-based Guava Technologies Inc. share a common goal of wanting to make cell analysis more readily available to drug researchers, and they have joined forces to do that after finalizing a long-term partnership deal in early March.

The combination of the two companies' capabilities reportedly will integrate flow cytometry instrumentation, reagent kits, validated protocols and technical support to bring the advantages of flow cytometry to more researchers in cell biology, including those involved in stem cell research.

Using flow cytometry to measure changes in protein expression in individual cells is nothing new, notes Dr. Alan Weiss, director of strategy and business development for Millipore. "But what is new is that we will be bringing that analytical platform to the lab bench and make it available to a larger number of scientists around the world," he says. "Guava's platform is ideally suited to this task, but Guava is a small company and its ability to operate in the world market is proportionally restricted, which is where we come in."

Compared to traditional methods of cell analysis, flow cytometry can yield richer data sets by looking at multiple markers with each cell, instead of doing the task one at a time with Western blots or using imaging technique with labeled antibodies, Weiss says.

In addition, "The combination of Millipore sample prep and reagents with Guava's instrument platform will create an integrated offering [and] allows us to add considerable value to the highly differentiated antibody portfolio and assay development capabilities that came with our Serologicals acquisition," noted Martin Madaus, president and CEO of Millipore, in a news release about the deal.

The companies plan to launch co-branded products to the market in July 2008. Guava will continue to sell to pharma and biotech accounts in North America and Europe, while Millipore will sell the same products to academic and government accounts in those regions and to all accounts in the rest of the world.

"There is a lot of coordination in messages and communication and our Web sites will be linked, at least with regard to flow cytometry," says Weiss. "This is a very unusual partnership because of the intense level of cooperation and the fact it truly is a partnership. Millipore is bigger but in this endeavor we are more like equals."

Millipore will provide field service for all Guava instrumentation as well as its own for these co-branded products. In addition, Millipore will develop co-branded reagent kits specifically for Guava's flow cytometers. Finally, Millipore and Guava Technologies will work together to develop a new generation of instrumentation with enhanced performance and functionality.

 "Millipore comes with a huge selling and service organization—we've been trying to build this on our own and have made inroads, but to get into all the academic and pharma and biotech venues, we can use the help," says Lawrence F. Bruder, president and CEO of Guava. "Also, we haven't been able to develop all the applications we would like to have created to go with our platform. Meanwhile, Millipore has all the applications but was looking for a platform. So it seemed like a good match and a good time to get together. This is much more than just a distribution and service deal."

Guava Technologies developed the first commercially-available micro-capillary flow cytometry system. Micro-capillary flow cytometers accommodate smaller sample volumes, generate less waste, have lower operating costs, and are easier to set up and run than traditional flow cytometry instrumentation.

Bruder says that in addition to the sales and service access, teaming with Millipore was attractive because the company shares Guava's vision of making complex cellular analyses accessible to any scientist.

"Millipore has significant experience and reach among academic and government researchers and an extensive network of highly qualified service providers throughout the world," he notes. "With Millipore as our partner, together we can make this vision a reality and significantly increase our global presence and lower the barriers for cell biologists to adopt flow cytometry as a major research tool." 

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