Analytik Jena acquires majority share in eBiochip Systems GmbH

Chip array key technology with exclusive usage rights expands bio solutions portfolio. Initial systems already on the market.

Jena/Itzehoe, November 06, 2007 – Analytik Jena AG (Frankfurt, Prime Standard: AJA), the leading provider of analytical measuring systems for food inspection, environmental analysis, medicine and biotechnology, today announced the conclusion of an agreement which gives Analytik Jena the majority of shares in Itzehoe-based eBiochip Systems GmbH.

eBiochip is a company which arose from the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology in 2000, whose core area of expertise is developing and manufacturing miniaturised analytical measuring systems with electric biochip arrays and automatic equipment for processing biological samples.

With retroactive effect to the start of the financial year (1 October 2007), Analytik Jena acquired 70.0% of eBiochip shares on the basis of a cash/share deal. The two parties agreed not to disclose the purchase price. The remaining shares continue to be held by the founder of the company, Dr Rainer Hintsche, who will also continue to manage eBiochip. Dr Hintsche, one of the most renowned international scientists in this special field, has received the Philip-Morris prize, the European Grand Prix of Innovation and the Deutsche Zukunftspreis für Technik und Innovation (German Future Prize for Technology and Innovation) for his developments in the field of biochip technology.

“eBiochip uses an extremely innovative approach to electrically readable biochips”, commented Klaus Berka, Chairman of the Executive Board of Analytik Jena. “We believe this technology to be an interesting and competitive alternative to other systems available on the market in the growth sector of protein analytics and molecular diagnostics. We welcome the fact that the development of eBiochip systems is already well advanced and that marketing can begin soon. Of particular interest is the fact that both the technology and the sample preparation chemistry use synergies with Analytik Jena’s bio solutions business unit.”

Alternative read-out technologies for biochips tend to work with relatively expensive optic demonstration technologies. The advantage of electric biochips is the fact that they measure biological detection processes on a silicon chip, as a result of which they are not subject to mechanical influences or optical clouding.

The principle: from biological samples with a variety of proteins or genetic material, a sought target molecule binds itself to one of various receptor molecules on a chip array. If a sought molecule is bound, the innovative electronics measure an electric signal which is directly transferred to the computer. This technology does not require procedures with light sources or optical detection. On the basis of these nanostructured electric chips, equipped with biological function layers in molecule thickness and integrated microsystem technology, the first analytical devices were designed and constructed, for which there are various possible applications. These biochips then become “laboratories on the chip” in combination with one-way cartridges which allow stockpiling and the use of reaction fluids and reagents on the sensor surfaces. They allow staff to carry out automatic on-site analyses or to make quick decisions concerning critical biological analyses. For example, it is possible to detect antibodies in foodstuffs, biological warfare agents or pathogens directly and flexibly. Such eBiochip systems are already being used as prototypes for analytical platforms in some European laboratories. The greatest future potential is expected in the individual application of automatic control and diagnostic devices on site which require no specialist competence.

eBiochip, which has found excellent conditions in the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology (ISIT), Itzehoe, for the implementation of the planned developments and which has concluded exclusive licence agreements for the use of certain patents with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, will continue to have a presence at the location. The existing cooperation agreement and joint R&D subsidy projects will continue to be honoured and implemented optimally.

“The acquisition of eBiochip is a further step towards the implementation of our strategy for completing and/or extending our technology platform and, therefore, our biotechnological expertise” added Klaus Berka.

Dr Hintsche describes his expectations as follows: “After 35 years working in the field of biochemical analysis, I detect here a broad development towards mobile, personalised applications similar to the shift from large computers to PCs or from tabletop telephones to mobiles. If we succeed in providing a suitable technology, there are almost untouched markets here. Together with the companies in the Analytik Jena Group, we see great potential in the development and marketing of the products in the future. Of particular note are the synergy potentials for our technical solutions e.g. in microfluidics and biodetection”.

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