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Market profile: spot pickers.

An oft-repeated joke among spectroscopists is that while European proteomics research still adheres to electrophoresis, American proteomics has abandoned the technique for HPLC. Although throughput and accuracy problems with 2D gel electrophoresis may have once discouraged users, today automation has helped make the technique more reliable.

One such chore is the selecting and excising of protein spots from gel arrays. Selecting protein spots by hand is a laborious and imprecise process that can lead to sample contamination and protein waste.

Automated spot pickers use high-resolution CCD cameras to image the 2D gels. Sophisticated detection software then identifies potential spots and classifies them by protein content. After acceptable targets are selected, exact coordinates are sent to a robotic arm which can quickly and accurately excise the spots. The spots are then deposited onto special plates for mass spectrometer analysis.

Today, Bio-Rad, which manufactures the ProteomeWorks Plus Spot Cutter, along with GE Bio-Sciences (formerly Amersham), which offers the Ettan Spot Picker (see IBO 2/15/01), controls more than half of the total electrophoresis market worldwide. In November 1999, Bio-Rad sent its largest Spot Cutter purchase order to Advanced Rapid Robotic Manufacturing (ARRM), its OEM partner.

Even so, there are a number of competing products in the market. In December 1999, PerkinElmer announced a global distribution deal with Genomic Solutions (see IBO 12/31/99), now the genomics and proteomics research subsidiary of Harvard Biosciences. More recently, in March 2003, the two companies signed an agreement that gives PerkinElmer distribution rights to the private label products produced for it by Genomic Solutions. Included in the terms of the deal is Genomic Solutions' ProXCISION Proteomics Gel Cutting Robot.

Other notable products include the PROTEINEER sp spot picker and imager from Bruker Daltonics, the Genetix GelPal, Biomachines and LEAP Technologies' 2D iD gel imaging and spot-cutting workstation (see IBO 5/31/ 03), the Xcise spot-cutting robot from Shimadzu Biotech and Proteome Systems (see IBO 3/31/ 02), and the K-core spot cutter produced by Marsh Bio Products, a part of Apogent Technologies subsidiary Advanced Biotechnologies (see IBO 4/30/02).

Strong demand from biotech and pharma should continue to boost electrophoresis revenue. IBO estimates the spot picker market to be about $15 million. It should continue growing at a healthy clip, approximately 20% cumulatively through 2008.

And despite contrary suspicions, the electrophoresis market remains strong both in Europe and in the US, where demand is expected to continue growing at approximately 7%.

Spot Pickers At A Glance:

Leading Suppliers

* Bio-Rad

* GE Bio-Sciences (Amersham)

* Genetix

Largest Markets

* Academia

* Biotechnology

* Pharmaceutical

Instrument Cost

* $85,000 to $150,000
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Publication:Instrument Business Outlook
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 15, 2004
Words:432
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