Molecular diagnoses will become routine
Molecular diagnostics is one of the most important technological advances in clinical diagnostics, seeing the €3.6 billion market grow 10% in constant currency (CC) in 2010 and predicted continual growth well above the diagnostic industry rates. The recipe for success in this field lies in three critical components: core technology, automation and menu. During our interview with Marc Meyer, the European Marketing Director of Diagnostics for Beckman Coulter Eurocentre, about his firm’s perspectives and prospects in molecular diagnostics
‘We have made this possible by integrating the nucleic acid extraction, purification, and entire real-time PCR testing process into one, automated, stand-alone system. And we have combined this with primary tube sampling and ID, random access, on-board refrigerated reagents and automated sample processing; as well as the ability to calculate the result, offer auto-verification and upload of results to the hospital LIS. ‘Our offering starts with infectious diseases and blood virus testing and will expand the menu capability as we have done in immunoassay.’ What impact does he see this having on hospital budgets and lab running costs? ‘Our solution offers speed, simplicity and flexibility,’ he pointed out. ‘It gives labs the opportunity to have an individual test result in less than two hours.
In comparison, our main competitors rely on a batch system, which means many labs currently have to send out their molecular testing. This makes it a slow and costly system for hospital budgets, involving far more staff time. Batch results for HIV testing, for example, can take three days. ‘We expect the Beckman Coulter random access system to have a fundamental impact on workflow, cost and time efficiencies for hospitals. It will also make better use of already stretched staff resources, enabling highly trained staff to be freed up to handle more complex work.’
He went on to explain that the firm had a long-term strategy – beginning in 2006 with talks with customers worldwide to understand precisely what type of system they wanted to cope with increasing demands, such as HIV testing. ‘As part of putting the pieces of this molecular puzzle together, we made acquisitions of Lumigen and Agencourt to secure their expertise in genomics. Overall, we have made a significant investment both financially and in resources to bring this new system to fruition.’ Now that Beckman Coulter is part of Danaher, what impact will this have on its expansion into molecular diagnostics? ‘Beckman Coulter has received a major boost to its long-term business development strategy of “improving patient care and reducing cost” by becoming a flagship brand within the Danaher portfolio of companies,’ he explained.
‘We are recognised and respected world-wide for our automated platforms serving the core lab and this will add to that portfolio, further strengthening our offering to global healthcare systems.’ Danaher is recognised for ‘innovation’, which highlights what Beckman Coulter is offering in molecular diagnostics, he pointed out. ‘Of course, we started our R&D work on this new molecular diagnostics system well before we became part of Danaher – it’s one of the key initiatives that attracted Danaher to the brand. Beckman Coulter dedicates itself 100 percent to its laboratory customers. Taking what is already respected in Beckman Coulter, we can now leverage the business expertise Danaher has in building companies and making them even better.
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