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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the August 7, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Gyros Shrinks the Lab Even More
For a lab worker, to do something faster probably means
using a smaller quantity. Reduce the size of the test tube and the
test will process more quickly.
One of the first companies to be successful in the miniaturization
effort was Orchid Biocomputers, which pioneered in microfluidic technology
("Honey, I Shrunk the Lab," U.S. 1, January 29, 1997). Now
a Swedish company is entering the microfluidic/microchip area, a market
that is estimated to be worth $1.2 billion in two years.
At Princeton Corporate Plaza on Deer Park Drive, John Shomers has
set up the United States office of a Swedish-firm, Gyros AB. "We
are a biotech tool supply company," says Shomers, director of
sales. "We are not looking to find cures, just to speed the research
process along. In general, we develop microfluidic technology on a
plastic disk or CD."
Initially the firm will work in the proteomics area, by doing sample
preparation prior to maldi mass spectroscopy analysis. "We’ve
taken test tube or micro titerplate technology, reduced the volumes,
and can do the same types of assays that are being done in the major
institutions and pharmaceutical companies," says Shomers. "It
is usable in high throughput or low throughput laboratories. We are
doing protein digest cleanup for now, and are looking at other applications,
such as point of care diagnostics, for the future."
Shomers points out that Gyros does not sell the mass spectrometer,
just the detection system. "We just launched our first product,
the Gyrolab Workstation, which facilitates the liquid handling portion
and processes within the disk, and we have the MaldiSP1, the application
disk," says Shomers.
MALDI (matrix assisted laser desorption ionization) is a term for
a type of mass spectrometry. It measures the mass of molecules in
relationship to each other by measuring the movement. The movement
is triggered by the laser that ionizes the molecules. "In this
case we are measuring their time of flight over a set distance within
a tube. Larger molecules travel slower than smaller ones."
The company has its roots in laboratories at Pharmacia, which merged
with Amersham. Two years ago Gyros spun off from Amersham Biosciences,
based in Uppsala, Sweden. Its name comes from the Greek word for "round"
or "spin," says Shomers. "We carry out the liquid movement
on the disk — getting the liquid to go from one microstructure
to another — by using centrifugal force and modifying the surface
chemistries on the plastic disk."
The Gyros workstation and disk can do protein identification for drug
development, protein characterizations, and protein/protein interactions.
"These identifications can help to differentiate normal cells
from disease cells," he explains. "A breast cancer cell can
express a protein pattern different from a healthy call. Down the
line, this information could help researchers find new treatments
for a particular disease."
The CD he uses is the same size as an ordinary CD, but it does not
look like one. It is run, not in a computer, but in a special work
station. "The CD has specifically designed microstructures —
integrated, and reproduced in parallel around the disk — so all
the assays can be run in parallel," he says. "We have grown
cells on the disk and foresee being able to do cell-based assays,
assays in the genomic area, and bioaffinity assays."
The son of a fire captain, Shomers majored in chemistry and biology
at State University of New York at Brockport, Class of 1972, and did
graduate work in clinical chemistry at SUNY Buffalo. After six years
in academe he went into a sales job, selling lab equipment and reagents
for Pharmacia Biotech from 1980 to 2000. After a year with LGL Biosystems,
which was acquired and is now Molecular Devices Corp., he was recruited
to set up this Gyros laboratory. The five people working here focus
on sales, applications, and service.
Shomers does not see his company as a direct competitor to Orchid
BioScience, which is currently working in SNP microassay technology.
But Gyros’ new tool, he claims, offers reduced volumes, increased
sensitivity. higher throughput, and reduced use of reagents and samples
— which results in cost savings.
Corporate Plaza, Suite 100, Princeton 08540. 732-438-9400; fax, 732-438-8881.
Home page: www.gyros.com.
GPC Biotech, a genomics and proteomics-driven drug discovery
company, has sextupled its space and hired three former Bristol-Myers
In a move from 1,500 square feet on Deer Park Drive to an 8,700 square
foot sublease on College Road, GPC was represented by Bill Barish
of Commercial Property Network, and Sab Russo of CB Commercial represented
McKesson HBOC, which left this space and is subleasing it.
The expanded Princeton office has 13 employees and will concentrate
on clinical development, says Laurie Doyle, GPC spokesperson for the
Founded in 1997 to enable the government-funded Max Planck Institute
to commercialize its discoveries, the 197-employee GPC raised more
than $118 million when it went public on the Neue Markt stock exchange
two years ago. Its CEO, Bernd Seizinger, is a former director of the
Molecular Neuro-Oncology Laboratory at Harvard/Massachusetts General
and until 1996 was vice president of oncology at Bristol Myers-Squibb
(U.S. 1, December 8, 1999). The United States headquarters is in Waltham,
Massachusetts, near Boston.
GPC focuses on oncology and has a therapy that, when used with Taxol,
treats esophageal cancer. This drug is in Phase II clinical trials.
Other projects are in the area of cell cycle control and anti-angionesis.
Thomas J. McKearn joined the company as vice president of medical
affairs, along with Edward F. McNiff, vice president of pharmaceutical
development, Michael Petrone, vice president of clinical operations,
and John R. Slayback, director of analytical and formulation development/outsourcing.
McKearn had been founder and CEO of Cytogen Corporation and most recently
was in charge of strategic science and medicine at Bristol-Myers Squibb’s
Pharmaceutical Research Institute. McNiff and Slayback were also hired
from B-MS, and Petrone came from Roberts Pharmaceutical Corporation
and Genaera Corporation.
Vice president for bioinformatics Gregory Hamm has directed the molecular
biology computing laboratory at Rutgers and founded the data library
at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg.
Princeton 08540. Gregory Hamm, vice president. 609-524-1000; fax,
609-524-1050. Home page: www.gpc-biotech.com
Center, Suite T1, Cranbury 08512. Raj Lakhanpal MD FACEP, president.
609-409-8200; fax, 609-409-8130. Home page: healthatoz.com
HealthAtoZ has teamed with a public company, PacifiCare
Health Systems, to help 3.3 million PacifiCare members manage their
personal and family healthcare information.
Members can store and access such health information as immunizations,
lab tests, prescription and over-the-counter medications, allergies,
vitamins, surgeries and hospitalization through the website (www.PacifiCare.com).
They can share printed versions with their physicians and schedule
E-mail reminders of appointments, medication times, and immunizations.
PacifiCare members live in eight states and Guam.
CN 5219, Princeton 08543-5219. Donn Rappaport, CEO. 609-580-2800;
fax, 609-580-2888. Home page: www.alc.com
ALC Data Management has won the contract to manage the ADVO Advantage
Residential Database (www.advolists.com). Known for its saturation
mailings, particularly the "Have You Seen This Child" inquiries,
ADVO has 127 million addresses and provides virtually 100 percent
coverage for residences.
ADVO has its own clients for mailings, and from now on it will sell
its lists only through ALC Data Management. "We are the liaison
with ADVO, and all list sales will ultimately have to go through us,"
says Missy Root, vice president of data management.
ADVO is based in Hartford, Connecticut. As the nation’s largest direct
mail marketing services company, it is the single highest volume private
customer of the United States Postal Service. It updates the database
via direct feed from the USPS and edits it in-house. So accurate is
this database, says the company, that the USPS uses ADVO data to clean
Integra LifeSciences paid $5.4 million for the neurosciences
division of NMT Medical in Boston, which generated $12.7 million in
product sales last year. The deal also includes a distribution center
in Atlanta and a manufacturing and packaging facility in Biot, France.
Integra’s favorable earnings report showed a net income of $4.25 million
for the quarter ending June 30, compared to $2.8 million last year
at the same time. Revenues were $26.4 million, up from $22.9 million.
Though the purchase will reduce earnings about 1 cent per share, it
could increase Integra’s sales by $2.5 million per quarter.
Integra LifeSciences develops, makes, and markets medical devices,
implants, and biomaterials for treatment of cranial and spinal disorders,
soft tissue repair, and orthopedics.
President and CEO Stuart Essig, formerly an investment manager with
Goldman Sachs, has an MBA and PhD in financial economics from the
University of Chicago and was senior merger and acquisitions advisor
to a wide range of domestic and international medical technology,
pharmaceutical, and biotechnology clients.
311 Enterprise Drive, Plainsboro 08536. Stuart M. Essig, CEO. 609-936-3600;
fax, 609-799-3297. Home page: www.integra-ls.com
Anthony H. Wild, CEO. 732-564-2200; Home page: www.medpointeinc.com
First MedPointe Inc. bought the health care division
of Carter Wallace for $408 million. Now it has sold part of that,
Wampole Laboratories, to Inverness Medical Innovations. Based in Waltham,
Massachusetts, Inverness is a publicly held firm that makes products
for the women’s health market. Inverness paid $70 million in cash
and will keep Wampole’s current management team.
MedPointe will retain Wallace Labs and 600 employees, including more
than 300 sales representatives. It moved from the former Carter Wallace
campus to Somerset in May.
CN 5350, Princeton 08543-5350. Joseph A. Mollica, chairman and CEO.
609-452-3600; fax, 609-452-3672. Home page: www.pcop.com
In an effort to save $8 million this pharmaceutical
software company will lay off 80 of its 750 employees by the end of
next month. About 200 people work at the Eastpark Boulevard location,
but how many of those jobs will be lost was not disclosed.
The firm offers pharmaceutical software and drug discovery services,
not only in South Brunswick but also in San Diego, California, and
The second quarter loss, just announced, was $5.1 million, or $0.22
per share. Drug discovery revenue increased 14 percent and software
revenue increased five percent.
Princeton 08540. Jim Kahl, CEO. 609-514-9650; fax, 609-514-9675. Home
Bowne Global Solutions, a subsidiary of Bowne & Co., Inc., will buy
Berlitz’s GlobalNET translation, localization and interpretation business
for $75 million.
"This transaction will let Berlitz concentrate on its core businesses
of teaching languages while ensuring that the customers and employees
of our GlobalNET business in translation, localization and interpretation
are well cared for," says James R. kahl, CEO of Berlitz. Berlitz’
international headquarters is at Alexander Park, and it has more than
450 locations in over 50 countries worldwide.
By 2004, everyone who buys a large television set will
also be buying a digital tuner. And that might be good news for the
Sarnoff Corporation, which could license its receiver technology to
television set manufacturers.
The Federal Communications Commission, in a three to one vote on August
8, required TV makers to build in the digital tuners. The requirement
applies to sets with screens from 25 to 30 inches in two years and
smaller sets (screens measuring 13 inches or larger) by 2007.
Though Sarnoff’s major job — to set the standards for HTDV —
has been completed, it has technology available for sale. "We
have a broad range of receiver technology that can be put on chips,"
says Sarnoff spokesperson Tom Lento. "One of our strengths is
the technology for chips that can be used in converter boxes for the
older analog TV sets."
The market for these converter boxes is huge, says Lento. There are
250 million analog sets in the United States, and new ones are selling
at the rate of 30 million a year. "With this converter box, the
older sets can receive the digital programming and display a good
Originally the FCC had hoped that market forces would spur the adaptation
of the more advanced technology. In an effort to ease the transition
from analog to digital, the FCC assigned extra channels to each television
station five years ago, so the stations could broadcast both ways.
Only when 85 percent of United States households own digital televisions
can the commission take those stations back and sell them, netting
an estimated profit of $5 billion to $10 billion.
The only supporters of the FCC ruling are Zenith and Thomson Multimedia,
companies that own some of the patents for the tuners. Other TV makers,
represented by the Consumer Electronics Association, claim that installing
a digital tuner in a small television will increase the cost by $250,
doubling or tripling the cost of the set. They threaten to appeal
the ruling in federal court.
Princeton 08543-5300. Satyam Cherukuri, president & CEO. 609-734-2000;
fax, 609-734-2040. Home page: www.sarnoff.com
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, 47, will succeed Steven A. Schroeder as president and CEO of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest health philanthropy. Schroeder is due to retire in December, and Lavizzo-Mourey joined RWJF as senior vice president and director of the health care group last year. She is the first woman and the first black to head the largest health and healthcare philanthropy in the United States. The $8 billion foundation paid out $560 million to various causes last year.
A native of Seattle, Washington, Lavizzo-Mourey studied at the University of Washington and the State University of New York at Stony Brook before going to Harvard Medical School. She did her internship and residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in
Boston, and she earned an MBA in health care administration from the
Wharton School in 1986. That year she began teaching at the University
of Pennsylvania Medical School and became Sylvan Eisman Professor
of Medicine in 1997. She directed the Penn’s Institute on Aging and
headed the school’s geriatric medicine division.
From 1992 to 1994 she was as deputy administrator of the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now Agency for Health Care Quality). She has lectured and published extensively on issues of health care and health policy.
East, Box 2316, Princeton 08543-2316. 609-452-8701; fax, 609-627-6422.
Home page: www.rwjf.org
Kaduson, Strauss and Company on Quakerbridge Road.
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