Millipore acquires Epitome’s EpiTag assets

Acquisition will accelerate the development of multiplex immunoassays for cell signaling.

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BILLERICA, Mass.—The ability of scientists to leverage multiplex cell signaling assays as a research tool has historically been limited due to the lack of highly-specific antibodies for intra-cellular targets, which is why Millipore recently purchased the assets associated with Epitome Biosystems' EpiTag technology.
The EpiTag technology uses a bioinformatics-driven approach to develop high-quality antibodies that are more specific and selective than some of the other reagents on the market. Millipore hopes the technology, purchased for an undisclosed sum, will accelerate its ability to develop a new range of multiplex immunoassay kits that will enable researchers to more efficiently measure, detect and analyze proteins and cell signaling pathways.

According to Rick Ryan, vice president of Millipore's drug discovery business unit, the company's multiplex offering one of its fastest-growing product lines and the acquisition of EpiTag will help expand its growth prospects in this market by offering scientists a broader portfolio of cell signaling assays that can be used with the Luminex xMAP platform. Additionally, the acquisition will allow for the future development of other novel profiling technologies, Ryan says.

"Our customers are interested in better understanding the roles that cell pathways play in major diseases such as cancer and diabetes," Ryan says. "The EpiTag technology will allow us to develop multiplex immunoassays for cellular targets that were previously very difficult to detect and quantify. As a result, we will enable customers to leverage the power of the Luminex xMAP platform for cell signaling by providing antibodies and kits that are specific to the highest areas of interest for researchers."

EpiTag exploits the fundamental discovery that every protein can be uniquely identified based on short, continuous stretches of amino acid sequence. Epitome Biosystems uses a proprietary informatics approach to identify the EpiTags from sequence information. Each EpiTag is chemically synthesized and then used as an immunogen to generate highly specific anti-peptide antibodies. Most proteins have multiple EpiTags, allowing multiple antibodies to be generated to each protein.

Multiplex assay systems or protein arrays are easily developed from the EpiTag antibodies. A standardized assay platform for all proteins is employed that includes enzymatic digestion of the sample in order to liberate EpiTags for efficient binding to the antibody.

The result is an assay system that measures peptides rather than proteins, avoiding many of the problems associated with a variety of protein interactions that naturally occur in biological samples such as matrix effects, epitope interference and inaccurate measurement. Using the EpiTag system, multiplexed assays can be developed that are traditional antibody-capture sandwich assays for maximum sensitivity, or that are single antibody peptide-competitive assays for maximum scaleability.

"We believe the multiplex marketplace is still a rapidly growing one, and this particular acquisition allows to grow in a market and meet a research need that is not currently being met," Ryan says.

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