Qiagen N.V. (QIA; Frankfurt, Germany) has acquired ESE GmbH (Stockach, Germany), a privately held developer and manufacturer of ultra violet (UV) and fluorescence optical measurement devices. The transaction is valued at up to US$19 million in cash. Applications of newly added molecular detection technology for Qiagen include point-of-need testing in molecular diagnostics and applied testing.
Qiagen has shown that ESE's fluorescence detection systems can be used to measure signals generated by the company's existing testing technologies, including the helicase-dependent amplification (HDA) and thermophilic helicase-dependent amplification (tHDA) isothermal assay systems. Qiagen licensed these technologies from BioHelix (Beverly, MA, USA) in 2008.
The isothermal assay technologies are an integral part of Qiagen's next generation screening platform QIAensemble. Assay development for the fluorescence detection systems will benefit from ongoing research activities for this platform.
The ability of ESE's systems to run HDA-based assays for several pathogens including Salmonella and Escherichia coli bacteria as well as Influenza viruses was verified. Analysis can be performed directly on samples (i.e., from crude blood) or following an upfront sample preparation step integrated into the devices using Qiagen's sample technologies. Depending on the target, such assays can generate results in between 5 minutes and 15 minutes. This represents a key breakthrough allowing the platform to meet the most important requirement in point-of-need testing: ultra-fast time to result.
Systems developed and manufactured by ESE utilize unique, high-performance fluorescence detection technologies integrated into compact modules. The solutions represent an emerging standard for the detection of fluorescent signals in a wide range of molecular testing applications, notably in nucleic acid-based point-of-need testing. In addition to portable solutions for point-of-need testing, the miniaturized, low-cost fluorescence detection modules can be integrated in laboratory instruments.
The fluorescence detection systems can be battery operated, process up to eight samples at a time, and permit testing of samples for several parameters in a single run (multiplex testing). The systems enable low-throughput molecular testing in physicians' practices, emergency rooms, remote field areas, and other settings where a laboratory infrastructure is not accessible and fast turnaround is required.
The technology allows the detection modules to be manufactured at very low cost; the complete solutions can sell for less than $2,000 per unit--significantly below the price of other comparable testing systems.
A global provider of sample and assay technologies, Qiagen sample technologies are used to isolate and process DNA, RNA, and proteins from biologic samples such as blood or tissue. Assay technologies are used to make such isolated biomolecules visible.
Qiagen will establish ESE's development and manufacturing site in Stockach as a center of excellence in detection development, and intends to retain and expand the employee base.