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An Acumen for antibodies
DANVERS, Mass.—Antibody provider Cell Signaling Tehcnology Inc. (CST), announced recently that it entered into an assay development partnership with U.K.-based automation and instrumentation provider TTP LabTech, whereby CST would develop and validate its antibodies on TTP LabTech's Acumen eX3 microplate cytometric platform.
The initial intent of the partnership is for CST, using the Acumen platform, to develop and optimize a catalog of antibody-based assays for use in cellular pathway profiling. These Acumen high-content assays will be marketed to researchers by CST, which will also come to market with an HCA Profiling Service running the same assays in-house for customers seeking an outsourced solution.
"The service offering is an important part of our strategy," says Chris Bunker, director of business development for CST. "We don't expect our customers to buy all 400 of our antibodies to profile themselves. The service is a real opportunity for our customers to get access to our library of antibodies and to get a very big picture look at their compounds and from there they can narrow their focus to those antibodies of interest and continue their work on their own.
"The intention is for this to be much like the market for kinase screening, where companies look to service providers to do the broad-based work and then take it in-house from there."
For the folks at TTP LabTech, the opportunity to work with CST provides a couple of different benefits. First, it aligns the company and its relatively new Acumen platform with a recognized leader in the antibody field and it also helps the company as it looks to become better established in the North American market.
"They have a lot of experience with antibodies and have a large vast range of them in their catalog. Because of this, they have a lot contacts around the world," says Paul Wylie, senior commercial scientist for TTP LabTech. "In terms of the R&D side of it, we can't match their expertise. It is much easier for us to give them a bit of remote help and for them to put panels of antibodies through to show the capabilities in a lot of different areas.
"They also give us an increased presence in the U.S.—we have a Boston office now—and they have a big presence around the whole country."
From Wylie's point of view, the deal with CST is also ideal as it doesn't preclude TTP LabTech from working with other companies to validate other reagents on its Acumen platform.
"With high-content instrumentation, a lot of other companies want to tie you into reagent deals and there are specific [assays] you have to use," Wylie says. "We are not going down that road, but it does give people the option that if they want something that is validated, it is there with CST."
While the work the two companies are doing on the Acumen platform is new, CST and TTP LabTech are no corporate strangers, having worked together off and on for the past five years. In addition, Wylie was well versed in the CST antibody catalog having used them regularly in his post doc work.
"We really see them as a perfect partner for us," notes Bunker. "We like that they are not trying to be everything to everyone by providing the instrumentation and the reagents. This means there is a lot of value for both companies in this relationship."