MDS Analytical buys Blueshift Biotechnologies

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Drug discovery High-throughput screening

MDS Analytical Technologies has followed its acquisition of
Molecular Devices last year by snapping up high content screening
(HCS) experts Blueshift for $15m (€9.45m).

The acquisition bolsters MDS's cellular analysis offering, enabling the firm to offer its pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical customers a cost-effective way of adding HCS into their drug discovery programmes. HCS is a technique used during the drug discovery process that provides information about the effects of drug candidates on various cellular processes occurring within living cells. Most plate readers used for HCS only measure the average signal for a whole microtiter well or a small area of the well, while microscopes image only the field of view allowed by the objective lens. In contrast, Blueshift's flagship IsoCyte instrument enables researchers to quickly image the entire cell population held in a microtiter plate well in four colours at the same time. "This acquisition fills a gap in our current product portfolio, allowing us to offer our pharmaceutical research customers fast and simple cellular analysis with a line of instrumentation that images the whole well at true high throughput screening rates,"​ said Andy Boorn, president of MDS Analytical Technologies. "There are currently fourteen IsoCyte instruments installed at academic, biotech and pharmaceutical companies in North America. With our extensive global sales force, we have the ability to bring this novel product to a wider global market." ​ The instrument rapidly scans a laser across the bottom of a microplate or slide before the fluorescence emission is collected with an optical head and measured using photomultiplier tubes. The emission pattern is mapped in 2-dimensions through time-based correlation to allow the construction of a fluorescence image. The system's unique optics enable it to generate anisotropy measurements about the degree of polarized emission from an excited molecule in a range of environments from microarrays, beads, cells and homogenous solutions. This can be particularly useful for conducting FRET (fluorescence resonance energy transfer) measurements as faster measurements can be made with higher signal to noise ratios. Fluorescent proteins typically emit highly polarised light when excited directly by a laser, but when FRET occurs this non-optical resonance depolarizes the emissions. In addition to measuring the emission ratio of the donor and acceptor, the drop in anisotropy can be used to characterise protein-protein interactions in living cells on a cell by cell basis over time. "We are very excited about this opportunity for Blueshift Biotechnologies to merge into a world-class company like MDS Analytical Technologies,"​ said Evan Cromwell, president of Blueshift Biotechnologies. "The breadth and strength of its sales and marketing efforts mean that we will be able to increase awareness of this unique high-throughput imaging tool in new markets."

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