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Agilent Expands Life Science Disease Research Portfolio with Eurofins MWG Operon Asset Purchase

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Agilent Technologies Inc. has announced it has purchased the MassCode Tag technology from Eurofins MWG Operon, a division of Eurofins. The purchase includes the MassCode trademarks and intellectual property, including four families of patents.

Agilent will use MassCode Tag technology to develop new research products for pathogen identification, leveraging its strength in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and mass spectroscopy. Under the agreement, Eurofins MWG Operon will continue as a supplier of the core component for the new products.

MassCode Tags is designed to screen for specific pathogens that may be present in a biological sample. MassCode Tags are small molecules, each with a unique molecular weight. In MassTag PCR, individual tags are attached to DNA primers that correspond to microbial sequences. The primers are then used to amplify nucleic acid isolated from biological sample using PCR. The tags are released by applying UV irradiation, and mass spectroscopy is then used to identify the corresponding tags.

The mass spectroscopy detection technique is multiplexed and sensitive than traditional detection technologies utilized for PCR analysis. Investigators at the Centre for Infection and Immunity in the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, developed the MassTag PCR application.

“By acquiring this technology and moving it forward, Agilent is creating a new solution that enables mid-range multiplex screening for the life science research market,” said Gustavo Salem, Agilent vice president and general manager, Biological Systems Division. “This technology addresses a key need by reducing the cost to screen for a large number of pathogens that might be present in a given sample and will accelerate the life science research workflow.”

“We are pleased that Agilent recognized the value of this technology and has made a commitment to ensuring that it will be available for public health research,” said Ian Lipkin, M.D., John Snow professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University.

Dr. Lipkin, along with Dr. Thomas Briese, associate professor of Epidemiology at Columbia, have used this technology in their research to further techniques of pathogen identification and discovery for unexplained respiratory infections, viral hemorrhagic fevers, and meningoencephalitis.

The patents Agilent has purchased cover differing aspects of the MassCode Tag technology and are valid in 34 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and China.