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Beckman Coulter CVD collaboration to boost diagnostics platform

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FULLERTON, Calif.—Beckman Coulter Inc. is boosting its molecular diagnostics expertise—and content—with a recent deal to serve as the industrial partner in a two-year research project to be carried out at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and Laboraf Diagnostica e Ricerca San Raffaele SpA in Milan, Italy. The collaborative research will seek to discover genetic signatures for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and obesity-related hypertension, and Beckman Coulter will have exclusive license to commercial application of the results, which will be used to develop content for the company's molecular diagnostics platform.

"Molecular diagnostics will be a key growth area for Beckman Coulter in the coming years.  This collaboration provides us an unparalleled opportunity to obtain additional content for our platform," notes Bruce Wallace, vice president of Beckman Coulter's Molecular Diagnostics Business Center, in announcing the deal.  

The company already has a strong market position in cardiovascular diagnostic testing, but this collaborative effort "has us looking farther upstream to examine CVD and obesity-related hypertension to see if there are genetic prognostic indicators we can identify," notes Bernhard Spiess, director of strategic marketing for molecular diagnostics at Beckman Coulter, in an interview with DDN.

The long-term payoff for drug discovery remains to be seen, Spiess admits. "The primary payoff, in the short run, would be to make a positive difference in people's lives with earlier diagnosis and better prescribing of the right drugs. But discovering the genetic indicators for disease could lead to connections and partnerships in drug discovery efforts."

Molecular diagnostics also plays a strong role in moving the concept of personalized medicine forward, Spiess adds.

This kind of collaboration is very important to Beckman Coulter because it is a company that is strongly focused on development rather than focusing on research.

"What this research collaboration might do for us in terms of overall long-term strategy is to help get the ball rolling for collaborations in other key areas in which we want to develop molecular diagnostic tests," Spiess says. "A key strategy for us is to partner with experts in the field to develop novel content. We need short-, medium- and long-term avenues of generating content, and this particular collaboration is one of the ways to look at our longer-term goals.

"I think it's a very proactive move for a company like us to set up a consortium like this in a new and developing area of science," he continues. "We believe the work we are doing and the products we are developing will leave a mark on the lab environment, and this is a long-term strategy. This is a few-year process, and when it's done, we'll potentially have several opportunities for developing the content into new tools."

Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University and Laboraf Diagnostica e Ricerca San Raffaele SpA will share samples and results during the project. Beckman Coulter will work with the partners to develop research protocols and assays. Products and platforms used in the research studies include Biomek FXP Laboratory Automation Workstations and GenomeLab SNPStream Genotyping Systems.


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