Thermo Fisher boosts cell sorting capabilities

The company has acquired assets from Propel Labs, including the Bigfoot Spectral Cell Sorter

February 19, 2021
DDN Staff

WALTHAM, Mass.—Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is expanding its offerings, having acquired cell sorting technology assets from Propel Labs, a wholly owned subsidiary of SIDIS Corp. While no financial details were disclosed, the agreement stipulates that Propel Labs' roughly 40 employees and its Bigfoot Spectral Cell Sorter will join Thermo Fisher's Biosciences business, which is part of the Life Sciences Solutions Segment. Following this transaction, Propel Labs will continue operating as a separate entity and serving its current customers.

"We look forward to welcoming the highly talented members of the Propel Labs Bigfoot team who bring additional flow cytometry expertise, R&D capabilities and engineering strength to Thermo Fisher, helping to further elevate our cell analysis and cell therapy research business," said Mark Stevenson, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Thermo Fisher Scientific.

"Cell sorting is an essential discovery tool used by many of our customers, allowing for the separation of specific cell types from complex samples. A first-of-its kind, the Bigfoot Spectral Cell Sorter brings more powerful sorting capabilities, faster throughput and novel safety features complementing our already strong flow cytometry offering. As the market for cell and gene therapies, immuno-oncology and other promising medicines drive increased expectations from researchers, we are really well positioned to support our customers in their work to improve healthcare outcomes," Stevenson noted.

According to a press release, Propel Labs' Bigfoot Spectral Cell Sorter can speed up sorting by up to 10 times that of other available technologies, while maintaining cell viability and improving ease of use. This technology features an integrated Class II biocontainment system, bypassing users' need for separate biosafety cabinets. As noted on Thermo Fisher's website, “The Bigfoot Spectral Cell Sorter supports configurations with up to nine lasers (349nm, 405nm, 445nm, 488nm, 532nm, 561nm, 594nm, 640nm, 785nm) and 60 detectors, delivering versatility for both standard fluorescence detection and spectral unmixing. Multiple scatter options enhance flexibility with simultaneous standard and small particle detection, multi-laser scatter detection, and polarization.”

In other recent news from Thermo Fisher, the company announced on Feb. 16 that the FDA had granted emergency use authorization for Thermo Fisher's Applied Biosystems TaqPath COVID-19, Flu A, Flu B Combo Kit. The kit is a real-time PCR test for detecting and differentiating RNA from the SARS-CoV-2, influenza A, and influenza B viruses in nasopharyngeal and nasal swabs. The kit also features Applied Biosystems Pathogen Interpretive Software, which automatically translates genetic analysis data into a readable report.

"Understanding that the flu season would overlap with surges in COVID-19 infections, Thermo Fisher worked rapidly to develop a new multiplex real-time PCR diagnostic kit for detecting and differentiating SARS-CoV-2, influenza A and influenza B. These are illnesses which can present with similar clinical symptoms, but for which patient management, including quarantining measures, greatly differs," said Mark Smedley, president of Genetic Sciences for Thermo Fisher Scientific. Thermo Fisher. "This new kit offers clinical and public health laboratories a single test to help diagnose and monitor the spread of COVID-19 and the flu."

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