Dutch biotech firm Qiagen has announced the acquisition of key assets of Molecular Staging (MSI), which includes the Whole Genome Amplification (WGA) technology, designed to eliminate limitations created by scarce quantities of DNA samples.
Also known as DNA Constraint, the challenge of having insufficient quantities of DNA for analysis is a significant limitation for a growing number of customers worldwide. This limitation is increasing due to the rapidly escalating number of DNA analyses and the use of DNA source material which is limited in quantity.
Under the terms of the acquisition, Qiagen has acquired the major assets of MSI, which includes over 160 applied or issued patents, for $28.5 million (€23.2 million)in cash plus potential earn outs of up to $6.75 million. The acquisition is expected to add approximately $6 million in net sales and approximately $1 million in net income in 2005.
Peer Schatz, chief executive of Qiagen, said: "The need for such solutions has rapidly increased in target markets such as functional studies and clinical trials which are showing significant and long-term growth."
"This acquisition will provide solutions for rapidly emerging needs in fast-growing segments of our core markets and integrate well with Qiagen's product portfolio for nucleic acid sample handling, separation and purification."
Whole genome amplification (WGA) provides complete, unlimited copies of the entire genome, creating a sufficient quantity of DNA from even the smallest amounts of starting material to enable a practically unlimited number of analyses. Performing WGA is often described as "immortalizing" the sample and development of the applications and its technology will find uses in general research, sample storage facilities and diagnostics.
Schatz said the technology had a: "very simple protocol with high reliability. WGA can amplify even the smallest amounts of DNA without changing and DNA content."
"The biological copy mechanism is failure proof."
Qiagen intends to launch a series of kits integrating MSI's WGA technology in early 2005 as MSI's WGA activities will be integrated into Qiagen's operations in Germany.
The pharmaceutical industry has shown a distinct trend towards analysing greater numbers of clinical patient samples. Patient samples collected in biobanks or in clinical trials are limited in quantity and recollecting samples from the same donor could result in different DNA content.
Schatz commented that the use of DNA analysis in clinical research is rapidly growing. With the new FDA guidelines and recent evidence of the value of DNA analysis, this is currently leading to significant increases in the use of DNA analysis
Collection techniques such as small needle biopsies and buccal swabs, also limit the amount of sample taken originally. Increasingly larger amounts of genomic DNA are being required for patient genotyping and to enabling the sharing of patient DNA samples between researchers at different locations.
Schatz said: "Now that the FDA has set guidelines for DNA sample collection in clinical trials, such samples are analyzed using many tests. The samples are usually very old by then."
WGA is distinct from PCR since it allows non-specific amplification of the complete genome to create more DNA for analyses. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), is a technique that only allows specific amplification of small amounts of DNA fragments using DNA polymerase and specific primers.
The two technologies, WGA and PCR, are therefore often synergistic as samples can be pretreated with WGA to create sufficient sample amount for many subsequent analyses using PCR and other downstream applications.