PTH at picograms

Thermo Fisher Scientific acquires Intrinsic Bioprobes to enhance workflow for biomarker research and diagnostics

Lloyd Dunlap
ROCHESTER, N.Y.—Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. has enhancedits workflow for biomarker research and diagnostics by acquiring IntrinsicBioprobes Inc. (IBI), a manufacturer of immuno-enrichment, sample-preparationtools used in quantitative mass spectrometry.
 
Adding IBI's consumable sample-preparation technologies toThermo Fisher's automated sample processing and quantitative mass spectrometryinstruments and software creates a complete, integrated workflow for thequantitative detection of protein biomarkers, enabling Thermo Fisher to offerits worldwide life science research and clinical diagnostics customers anenhanced solution for quantitative protein biomarker detection, according to aThermo Fisher media release.
 
 
"We began our collaboration about a year ago," says Dr.James Ladine, global director of R&D with Thermo Fisher's lab consumablesdivision.
 


The collaboration recently resulted in a paper published inthe Journal of Clinical Chemistrythat detailed the workflow and assay results for parathyroid hormone (PTH) inblood.
 
"We showed 17 different PTH hormone variations," Ladinenotes, most resulting from ends having been truncated. "Other techniques justshow a big, dumb number," he says, and lump together forms of the hormone thatmay not be active. Sensitivity is 8 picograms per milliliter, which comparesfavorably with other assays, he says.
 
 
The IBI portfolio includes its novel Mass SpectrometricImmunoassay (MSIA), featuring a patented sample preparation technique. Thistechnology allows enrichment of low-abundance proteins in biological samples.The specificity of immuno-enrichment, coupled with the sensitivity andquantitative capability of mass spectrometry, gives researchers a complete,higher-resolution view of the proteome. Furthermore, the MSIA technologyprovides greater sensitivity and higher throughput than conventional ELISA andbead-based immunoassay formats, according to Thermo Fisher.
 
Ladine notes that there are two trends in biomarker assayslike that for PTH—greater complexity and lower abundance. In terms ofcomplexity, he cites PSA as an example of a "traditional marker" that is beingseen as more complex than previously thought.
 
"Complexity can involve truncation," as with PTH, "splicingvariances and different sites or extent of phosphorylation," he says.
 
 
IBI'sproprietary immunoenrichment technology involves 10 steps, Ladine notes, nineof which are now made by Thermo Fisher (only the serum or plasma isn't) and isbased on a patented pipette tip that integrates a high-throughput,high-binding-capacity microcolumn activated with antibodies. This technologyaddresses one of the key challenges of biomarker discovery and validation—theisolation and analysis of very low-abundance proteins such as PTH in complexbiological matrices. Conventional approaches involving depletion of interferinghigh-abundance proteins are time consuming and introduce analyticalvariability. Compared to other immunoenrichment approaches, IBI's approachpromises more effective capture of low-abundance proteins. A key challenge inproteomics research is the ability to differentiate between, and accuratelyquantitate, intact proteins and their variants. Traditional enzyme-linkedimmunosorbent assays (ELISA) are limited by the inability of the antibodies to discriminatebetween all variants and quantify their abundance, Thermo Fisher states.
 
 
"The Intrinsic Bioprobes portfolio will enhance ThermoFisher's position in the rapidly emerging field of clinical proteomics," saysChuck Kummeth, president of Thermo Fisher's laboratory consumables business."It is a simple, yet powerful approach to uncovering the proteomic basis ofdisease, and it better positions us to support our customers in their effortsto realize the promise of personalized medicine."
  
IBI was founded in 1996 by Randall W. Nelson, who has servedas its president since then. He will continue to be involved with the businessas a consultant.
 
Thermo Fisher declined to comment on the possibleintegration of IBI's staff or facilities or provide information on the dollarvalue of the acquisition.
 
 
Thermo Fisher was created in 2006 by the merger of ThermoElectron and Fisher Scientific, resulting in formation of Thermo Scientific(analytical instruments, laboratory equipment, software, services, consumablesand reagents) and Fisher Scientific (laboratory equipment, chemicals, suppliesand services). The company employs about 37,000 and has annual revenues ofalmost $11 billion.

Lloyd Dunlap

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