Putting down the bottle(necks)

BIOCIUS and Agilent launch mass spec solution that eliminates need for test compound-specific methods

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WOBURN, Mass.—In drug discovery and development, time has always been money, and bottlenecks are a bane to efficiency and speed, so BIOCIUS Life Sciences Inc. and Santa Clara, Calif.-based Agilent Technologies Inc. have teamed up to launch the RF360 High Resolution System for high-throughput screening of in vitro ADME assays, designed to eliminate at least one bottleneck: method development.

By combining the accurate mass capabilities of Agilent's time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometers and the high sample processing speed of RapidFire technology, the companies say that their instrument revolutionizes in vitro ADME analysis by eliminating the need to develop test compound-specific mass spectrometry methods.

"High-resolution mass spectrometry coupled with the unparalleled sample preparation throughput of the RapidFire platform enables significant streamlining of in vitro ADME assays," says Can "Jon" ÷zbal, chief operating officer of BIOCIUS, who adds that extending his company's partnership with Agilent Technologies has enabled the creation of a "revolutionary" approach to in vitro ADME that reportedly reduces analysis time to a fraction of that of conventional methods, while requiring a minimal amount of operator input.

"We have a beta test site that showed that with their conventional approaches to do weekly metabolic stability assays, it took them 38.5 hours from the time they received samples to the time they could upload corporate data for target groups to access," ÷zbal says. "With the new technology, it reduced that 38.5 hours to four hours. So, instead of having to wait until perhaps Thursday for work begun on Monday, you can be ready to do something with the data Monday afternoon or evening. If you're going through 30 or 40 or 50 cycles to evaluate compounds, you can see the value of that kind of speed."

As the companies explain, RapidFire technology combined with TOF mass spectrometers enables a wide range of ADME assays to be handled with the RF360, with a priori knowledge of the test compound no longer required, as data is acquired in full-scan TOF-MS mode. Post-acquisition, the relevant data is extracted using RapidFire software, eliminating the time-consuming and labor-intensive steps of LC/MS method development and batch analysis.

"Only TOF spectrometry can meet the scan speed and resolution demands required for these high-throughput types of applications," says Gustavo Salem, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Biological Systems Division. "Partnering with BIOCIUS on the RF360 has provided a solution that is the fastest approach to ADME on the market."

Of course, this doesn't mean that every assay under the sun has been relieved of the test compound method development bottleneck. As ÷zbal points out, the system currently handles the following ADME needs: CYP inhibition; metabolic stability; P-glycoprotein inhibition (Digoxin); plasma protein binding; permeability (Caco-2 and PAMPA); and CYP induction.

The next steps are for BIOCIUS to continually develop new applications to get rid of other method development bottlenecks and release those to the market as fast as is feasible, ÷zbal says.

"We have targeted in vitro ADME right now. This is not a 'one solution fits everything' tool, so we will continually be working on adding new applications to the list, like a solubility assay, for example."

RF360 Hi-Res technology is available as a ADME contract research service performed by BIOCIUS scientists at its facilities, or as an instrument installed in client and customers' laboratories.

BIOCIUS and Agilent have had a relationship for well over two years now, starting off with a co-marketing agreement signed in 2008, but this is the first product launch to come out of their collaborative efforts.

Bruker acquires Varian product lines divested by Agilent

BILLERICA, Mass.—In late May, Bruker Corp. announced the closing of its acquisition of three former Varian Inc. product lines from Agilent Technologies Inc. Agilent divested these product lines in connection with obtaining regulatory approval for its acquisition of Varian Inc., which was first announced in September 2009.

The former Varian product lines acquired from Agilent will become part of the new Bruker Chemical Analysis Division (CAD), which is part of the Bruker Daltonics mass spectrometry business. The new Bruker CAD products include laboratory gas chromatography (Lab GC), gas chromatography triple-quadrupole mass spectrometry (GC-QQQ-MS) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) systems.

In connection with this acquisition, Agilent and Bruker entered into a transitional services agreement and a supply agreement to facilitate the uninterrupted delivery of products and services to new and existing customers of the three acquired product lines. Bruker plans to continue to operate these product lines from facilities located in Victoria, Australia, and Fremont, Calif. Bruker will retain former Varian key management, research and development, operations, sales and marketing personnel, as well as applications and service personnel supporting these product lines worldwide with more than 250 former Varian staff joining Bruker.

"This acquisition offers an opportunity to leverage our existing technology, applications and customer support strengths in scientific instruments," said Dr. Frank Laukien, Bruker's president and CEO, said in a statement. "The three new product lines perfectly complement our existing mass spectrometry products, and will further strengthen Bruker's position in many industrial and applied markets with an expanded portfolio. While the three new product lines form the core offerings of our new Chemical Analysis Division, we plan to add additional products for applied and industrial markets over time."

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