New products, acquisitions and lab automation award for Thermo Fisher

By Mike Nagle

- Last updated on GMT

After acquisitions and new products to speed up drug discovery,
winning an award was the icing on the cake for lab automation
specialist Thermo Fisher.

During January, Thermo acquired Swiss Analytic Group, which owns Spectronex and Flux Instruments. This adds new technology and design expertise to Thermo's business and enables it to expand its sales presence in Europe.

Thermo has also launched two new lab automation products as well as enhancing the security of a chromatography system and designing a new safety cabinet.

As research and development budgets soar, lab automation products can speed up key research and cut costs in the drug discovery process. This not only benefits pharmaceutical companies but can also lead to patients getting access to innovative drugs faster and for less money.

The savings can also be pumped back into the industry to drive the development of truly innovative drugs in a market the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned is becoming 'stagnant'.

Automating areas of research also eliminates human errors, making the resultant data more consistent. Thermo's Cell Growth and Discovery (CGD) technology aims to automate cell growth, supply and in-line analysis. The equipment is fully enclosed in environmentally controlled conditions, which protects sample cells from contamination and users from potentially hazardous chemicals. The cell culture technology is also the first preconfigured system to offer image analysis technology.

The Thermo Scientific MaX WorkCell automates all plate preparation steps. This includes screen making, drop setting and plate sealing. As part of the Rhombix protein crystallisation products, MaX is the only all-inclusive plate preparation system currently available.

As a result of the acquisition of the Swiss Analytic Group, Flux will add its technology to Thermo's range. This will also provide additional expertise to design new technology for Thermo's high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy (LCMS) business.

Thermo will take advantage of Spectronex's instrument sales in Europe to increase their own presence on the continent. Although financial details of the deal were not disclosed, Flux and Spectronex had combined revenues of $22m (€17m) in 2006.

In another acquisition, sister-site recently reported​ that Thermo had bought Cohesive Technologies. The Massachusetts-based company developed TurboFlow, which decreases sample preparation time in liquid chromatography products.

This makes it easier for scientists to reduce matrix effects in LCMS products - a problem that the FDA felt compelled to give guidance on. Matrix effects are caused when 'impurities' in the sample (i.e. any component other than the one being analysed) affect quantity measurements.

Thermo has also announced security updates to its high-speed LCMS detection system, the MSQ Plus. In order to comply with the FDA's 21 CFR Part 11 rule, the equipment now features fully automated system security, secure data integrity, built-in audit trails and electronic signatures and signoffs.

In a final announcement, Thermo has also released a quieter and more energy efficient safety cabinet. The MSC-Advantage consumes 60 per cent less energy than standards cabinets and is designed to enable easy maintenance.

To cap a busy, yet successful fortnight, Thermo won Frost & Sullivan's 2006 "Product Line Strategy Award"​ for its "outstanding contribution to the European laboratory automation market."

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