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Waters boosts position in thermal analysis market with Calorimetry Sciences acquisition
MILFORD, Mass.—In a bid to capitalize on the relatively small but growing thermal analysis market in life sciences, Waters Corp. recently acquired Linden, Utah-based Calorimetry Sciences Corp. (CSC), a manufacturer of high-performance calorimeters. The business, which boasts annual sales of approximately $4 million, will become part of Waters' TA Instruments Division, based in New Castle, Del. The transaction is expected to be neutral to Waters' 2007 earnings.
Waters holds strong market positions in three analytical technologies—liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and thermal analysis—all of which the company considers complementary. These markets combined account for approximately $5 billion of the estimated $20 billion to $25 billion analytical instrumentation market. Thermal analysis itself is the smallest slice among those three technologies, and Gene Cassis, vice president of investor relations for Waters, puts the value of thermal analysis at no more than half a billion dollars.
"It's very much a technical niche within this broader marker and mostly thermal analysis is applied to industrial uses, so the whole application to biological systems is a relatively new trend," Cassis says.
One of these trends Waters executives have noticed recently is the increasing role of biologics in pharmaceutical discovery and development, Cassis notes. Much of this activity involves protein-based drugs or proteins within living systems that are used as biomarkers. The technology in microcalorimetry, he says, is useful in understanding the three-dimensional shape of protein molecules, which have a large impact on their biological activity.
"The folding or the nature and kinetics of the folding—that is, the rate at which the shape changes over time—can be an important parameter in understanding a disease state or potential therapy, and microcalorimetry has been an increasing tool in understanding such parameters," Cassis says.
Broadly, he adds, the CSC acquisition fits with Waters' long-term plans to find companies and technologies that complement its existing lineup and will help the company meet research goals to better identify and define disease states.
"More tactically, we are taking our TA Instruments business and expanding its reach more into life sciences," Cassis says. "Looking at last year's results for TA, the vast majority of that business was for industrial chemical applications and not life sciences, but we think there is a fit for calorimetry technology in life sciences; it just hasn't yet been exploited and we would like to be an agent of that change."
"The technologies and products from CSC will complement our recently introduced TAM microcalorimeter product line and will further strengthen TA Instruments' industry-leading position in thermal analysis," adds Terry Kelly, president of TA Instruments, "while increasing our exposure to the growing adoption of microcalorimetry in life science research."
Key products developed and offered by CSC include the Nano-ITC, an isothermal titration calorimeter designed to measure protein-ligand binding, and the Nano-DSC, an ultra-sensitive scanning calorimeter used for applications such as measuring the stability of proteins and other macro-molecules in dilute solutions.