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Whatman targets clone market
May 2005
by Peter Blais  | 
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. Whatman Inc., has expanded its reach into the drug discovery market and DNA purification with the recent introduction of the EasyClone 384 plate, which replaces traditional freezer-storage methods and allows biotechnology, pharmaceutical, government and academic research labs to archive, ship and purify clones at room temperature.
 
"With the launch of EasyClone 384, we are introducing an innovative, unique and truly revolutionary method of clone archiving and purification," said Rob McPheeters, Whatman's technical marketing manager. "We are excited to deliver a solution to the genomics market which optimizes and streamlines the processes already present in research laboratories."
 
Whatman traditionally targeted the forensics market. EasyClone 384 marks the company's entrance into the pure DNA research marketplace. In addition to research laboratories, Whatman will also target those companies supplying and selling clones. The plate allows clone archiving and purification for 10 cents per sample.
 
"In the DNA purification end of things, the total market has been quoted at $750 million and that is growing between 15 to 25 percent annually," McPheeters said. "It is a tough market to quantify. But when you get into the hundreds of millions of clones annually and hundreds of millions of dollars, it is a market we want to be a player in."
 
Whatman, a leader in separations technology, partnered with San Diego-based GenVault, an expert in biosample management, to produce the EasyClone 384 plates, which allow customers to use GenVault's integrated biosample management systems to provide compact stacking and storage of thousands of plates, as well as easy access to individual samples through automation software.
 
"We manufacture the plates, sell them to Whatman and Whatman sells them directly to the customer," said David Wellis, GenVault's senior vice president of marketing and sales, noting the new technology will modernize the way laboratories collect, store and back-up clone samples. "Depending on the number of plates they purchase, customers will still require some type of management system, hardware and software. Those would come from us. Whatman sells the consumable plate. We would be on the same customer sites offering systems to manage those plates."
 
EasyClone 384 also diversifies GenVault's customer base. "From GenVault's perspective," Wellis said, "it is great because clone storage was not an area we were focusing in. It gives us another source of revenue for our products. There are many, many large clone repositories with millions of clones. Those clones are stored in aging, old-technology, cryogenic freezer-type systems. This offers them a number of efficiencies in going to a dry-storage automated format and making those large repositories useful and accessible. There should be some Whatman announcements in the next couple of months on some fairly significant customers of the EasyClone plates with mentions of GenVault systems to manage those plates."
 
EasyClone consists of a 384-well storage and extraction plate with a pierce-able foil bottom and FTA disks pre-cut into each well. According to Whatman, the design and format of the EasyClone 384 plate enables the genomics market to use FTA as a replacement for both ultra-low temperature archiving and purification kits.
 
By eliminating the need for freezers and clone-processing steps, EasyClone 384 saves scientists time and money.
 
"What this product does is put FTA into a format the genom-ics industry is familiar with, namely multi-well plates," says McPheeters.
 
Code: E050510

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