Billerica, Mass.-based Millipore Corp. plans to keep working on molecular assays and portable instruments for biopharmaceutical production with a brand new company, following its spinout from Gen-Probe Inc.
Millipore and San Diego-based Gen-Probe began collaborating in August 2005 to create faster, more accurate tests for bacteria, viruses, mycoplasma and other contaminants commonly found in biopharmaceuticals. Monday’s announcement by Millipore coincided with Gen-Probe formally spinning out its industrial testing business as Roka Bioscience, backed with $37.2 million in funding from three private equity firms.
The two companies last year introduced MilliProbe, designed to detect Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, a pathogen found in water or on many other surfaces that’s particularly deadly to people hospitalized for cancer, cystic fibrosis, AIDs or burns. The firms expect to launch a second device in early 2010 to identify mycoplasma, or bacteria whose lack of cell walls makes them difficult to fight with most antibiotics.
The devices combine sample-prep methodologies developed by Millipore and Gen-Probe’s expertise with nucleic acid technologies to deliver test results within a few hours. Most pharmaceutical manufacturers currently use traditional culture tests to identify contaminants in purified water used during production — requiring samples to incubated in agar and taking up to a week for bacteria to grow sufficiently for identification.
Gen-Probe officials said the new standalone company will pay royalties from its future sales, adding that the firm will provide contract manufacturing services to Roka Bioscience on a transitional basis.