The thermal cycler is a standard bit of equipment for just about any laboratory working on gene expression studies, and there are a plethora of manufacturers offering products to the market.
Now, MWG Biotech has teamed up with Quanta Biotech to raise the stakes in the sector with the launch of a new range that, it claims, offers a hike in flexibility and performance over rival systems. And it also marks the first foray by MWG into real-time thermal cycling, something that is not offered in its current Primus range.
MWG, based in Ebersberg, Germany, forged the alliance with the UK's Quanta to create a new range of cyclers covering all ends of the market, from personal cyclers, through multiblock and gradient machines and into real-time PCR analysis.
A spokeswoman for MWG told DrugResearcher.com that Quanta will be contributing a core, proprietary technology to the collaboration that will underpin the new range. This covers not only the ability to switch between different block formats and handle stand-alone and multiblock formats, but also improved temperature and volume control that should provide speed hikes.
She noted that the current market for thermal cyclers is saturated, and this presents opportunities for companies that can offer a differentiated product package. The performance hikes expected for the new range will be complemented by some nice design touches. For example, the units will be small, to reduce the amount of lab space they require, and will also have USB ports so that data can be transferred simply from one lab to another using a USB memory stick. No details on pricing are available ahead of the launch.
The first prototypes are currently being evaluated in beta tests at customer sites, according to MWG. The German company said the first product to be commercialised in the range will be a gradient cycler with a choice of interchangeable blocks. Down the line, the company hopes to introduce a robot-compatible cycler for integration into MWG Biotech's successful range of Theonyx lab automation systems.
MWG's foray into real-time thermal cycling is an imperative if the firm is to maintain its position in the marketplace. A report by Frost & Sullivan published last year noted that the move towards real-time PCR, which boasts a broad spectrum of applications and advantages over traditional PCR technology, will likely revolutionise the sample analysis arena, and growth in real-time thermal cyclers is expected to follow.
Meanwhile, the rising popularity of microarrays in the US and European life science market acts as a complementary driver for real-time thermal cyclers, for example in the validation of microarray results using real-time PCR.
The F&S report predicts that, having notched up sales worth $252 million in 2001, the US and European market for real-time thermal cyclers is set to fetch combined revenues of $776 million by 2006.
MWG confirmed its commitment to its established line of Primus cyclers , stressing that until further notice, it will continue to sell the range with full warranty and service contract support, while the new systems are gradually being commercialised.