Specialty Media develops and supplies a variety of specialty stem cell culture media formulations and supplements, cells and research reagent tools to the life sciences industry.
At the heart of Serologicals' purchase of Specialty Media is a desire to tap into the growing interest in stem cells. These cells retain the ability to differentiate into any other cell type, raising the prospect that they could be used to treat diseases, for example by creating new insulin-producing tissue for diabetes, or implanting stem cells into a damaged heart so they can grow new healthy tissue.
While in a fairly embryonic stage at present, the market for stem cell-based therapies and tissue engineering is tipped to grow to around $10bn in 2013, according to a recently published report from Visiongain.
"The Specialty Media acquisition represents another milestone achievement in the execution of our strategic plan to continue to be the premier provider of tools for stem cell research," said Jeffrey Linton, Chemicon's president.
He said that Chemicon expects to generate approximately $4m from the sale of Specialty Media's products in 2005.
The new acquisition brings a broad range of stem cell-related technologies into Chemicon's portfolio, including support reagents such as feeder cells and media. Chemicon already offers stem cell differentiation and characterisation kits, stem cell marker antibodies, media and culture supplements.
Meanwhile, Serologicals' latest deal comes on the heels of its €168m acquisition of drug discovery group Upstate last October and earlier purchase of AltaGen Biosciences, the parent company of Sierra BioSource which is a leading provider of contract research and development services to the cell culture industry.
The cell culture market - including media, sera and reagents used in R&D and production - is growing fast on the back of a rising focus on biological drug development by the drug industry. For example, the US market was valued at just over $900m in 2003, but looks set to swell to $1.7bn by 2008, according to data from BCC.
It also appears to be in a consolidative phase at present: just last month, Sigma-Aldrich snapped up the JRH cell culture business of Australia's CSL for €283m, while in mid-2003 Sweden's Perbio was bought by Fisher Scientific for €626m.