Top-down proteomics research

Bio-Rad and Bruker partner to offer new solutions for biomarker discovery and development

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HERCULES, Calif.—Seeking to give proteomics researchers expanded protein profiling and identification capabilities, Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. and Bruker Corp. announced in April a joint product development and co-marketing agreement that brings together their technologies in an offering that will enable new solutions for biomarker discovery and development.

Under the agreement, Bio-Rad, a multinational manufacturer and distributor of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, and Bruker, a mass spectrometry (MS) instrument manufacturer, will develop and market new products based on Bio-Rad's surface-enhanced laser desorption/ionization (SELDI) technology in combination with Bruker's matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF/TOF) mass spectrometers for applications of high-throughput protein profiling and identification.

Bio-Rad's SELDI system offers a single, unified platform for differential expression profiling and biomarker discovery. The system detects biomarkers at the protein or peptide level by differential expression profiling. The system operates over a large, dynamic range, allowing detection of intact proteins under 150 kilodaltons, and the ProteinChip SELDI reader is designed to deliver optimum sensitivity. The system's biostatistical software—ProteinChip data manager software—performs univariate and multivariate analysis to determine which proteins show promise as biomarkers. The ProteinChip pattern analysis software is a more sophisticated software tool that can be used to focus on biomarkers of predictive value.

Bruker, on the other hand, recently launched its next-generation ultrafleXtreme MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometer, an instrument that enables high-throughput 1 kilohertz biomarker discovery and quantitation, as well as fast, high-performance tissue molecular imaging with a laser spot size close to single cell spatial resolution.

According to the companies, the products will provide new solutions for biomarker discovery, particularly the detection and high-confidence identification of intact peptides and proteins under 30 kilodaltons, which are known to be challenging for currently available technologies to identify. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The combined technologies offer tangible benefits to researchers for biomarker discovery, says Julie Hey, marketing manager for Bio-Rad's Protein Detection Business Unit.

"From a business perspective, this partnership made a lot of sense," she says. "We were working to identify different opportunities to expand on our technologies, and the new product we're creating with Bruker will definitely address a lot of the issues our current customers have. In essence, it's not recommended that you put a crude plasma or serum sample on an MS instrument. Through on-chip chromatographic enrichment, SELDI can selectively bind proteins, which results in a cleaner analysis with less background for subsequent TOF/TOF analysis, enabling researchers to access and identify lower-abundance proteins."

Dr. Darwin Asa, marketing manager for Bruker, adds: "The ultrafleXtreme TOF/TOF instrument will then look for those proteins of interest and create what we call a protein profile. Once we have found a putative protein marker, we will be able to begin sequencing the protein to definitively identify it."

New products based on this combination of technologies represents a significant upgrade in technical capabilities and addresses the needs of new market segments in applied proteomics, enabling researchers to more reproducibly identify, and ultimately characterize important biomarkers, Asa adds.

"A bottom-up approach is usually what you associate with MS-based biomarker discovery, but this product will also benefit anyone looking to take advantage of a top-down proteomics strategy," he says. "We recognize that this isn't just as simple as a combination of technologies. We actually have some developments underway on both sides to optimize and refine our current technologies to create some amplifying synergies that carry us beyond the current state of the art."

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