The collaboration is to focus on producing products, targeting customers that perform data extraction from high content cell-based assays. High content screening, screens which look beyond the interaction of a compound with a target, has gained greater acceptance within the industry set to become a $700 million (€527 million) market by 2008.
As HCS increases in throughput capabilities, it could potentially replace high throughput screening (HTS) in the primary screening stages. Performing HCS earlier in the drug discovery process will improve efficiency and limit the number of irrelevant compounds explored.
The agreement sees BioImage providing cell-based pathway screening assays with its Redistribution technology. Definiens is providing the Cellenger, software for automated image analysis. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
BioImage's Redistribution technology concentrates on small molecule drugs that change the activity of signalling pathways by modulating protein translocation. In addition to drug targets such as kinases, Redistribution assays address disease targets not amenable to traditional drug discovery.
The technology also performs pathway screens involving protein translocation read-outs using their high content redistribution platform. BioImage uses Definiens Cellenger to measure and quantify the activity of small molecules in Redistribution assays.
The Definiens Cellenger HCS solution is a software system for the powerful automated high-content analysis of cell-based assays that enable the reliable data extraction. The Cellenger HCS solution allows detailed analysis of structures of interest even in complex image data and the extracted objects are counted and morphometrically measured.
Thomas Heydler, CEO of Definiens said: "Partnering with companies such as BioImage will continue to enhance Definiens' role in image analysis for the high-content screening market."
At an average price of $1,000 for assay systems and $250,000 for instrumentation, the high cost of cellular assay technology is expected to limit growth until economic recovery in the life sciences industry allows for the expansion of research. The report expects the market to expand around 7 per cent a year until accelerating to double-digit growth in 2007.
The US accounts for the lion's share of the market, at around 52 per cent of the total, with Europe following behind with 30 per cent and Japan in third with 15 per cent.
One company expected to gain market share is Invitrogen, as it integrates assay technology from its acquisitions of Genicon Sciences, Molecular Probes and PanVera.
Other major companies in the cellular assay sector include BD Biosciences with 12 per cent of the market, Beckman Coulter with 10 per cent and Invitrogen and Molecular Devices, with 9 per cent equally.