Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

SEP15 2017

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) is the world's most widely read biotech publication. It provides the R&D community with critical information on the tools, technologies, and trends that drive the biotech industry.

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6 | SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 | | Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News Gail Dutton DWK Life Sciences is built on the heritage and promise of three companies with long, innovative histories in the labware space, ac- cording to DWK officials. Whether the com- bined strengths of the Duran Group, Whea- ton, and Kimble Chase—as DWK—will be greater than their individual merits remains to be seen. The heritage of each of those companies stretches back more than a centu- ry and is well-known throughout the world. "While DWK Life Sciences is the com- pany name, we're going to market as Duran Wheaton Kimble on the strength of our ori- gin brands," says David Koi, president and CEO North American division of Germany based DWK Life Sciences. That choice of branding, he says, reinforces the belief within DWK that each of the three companies in the merger is equally important. It also enables the new company to build upon the existing name recognition. "Given the history of the three compa- nies and their complementary product lines, a merger was logical. DWK Life Sciences now offers customers a complete, compre- hensive line of purpose-built glassware, plastics, and fused-material-based contain- ers for research, diagnostics, and specialty pharmaceuticals markets through DWK representatives," continues Koi. For researchers, the merger may save time. In the near future, they will be able to meet with one sales representative and work with one catalog to view all three product lines. Shipping should be faster, too, because the product lines of each of the three are beginning to be stocked in both the U.S. and Europe. Labware Isn't a Commodity The combined company reiterates the belief, long-held by each of its three compo- nents, that labware is not a commodity. In- novations have included: labware traceability, vials that fuse plastic to glass to create shatter- proof tools that don't leach, microplates that thwart nonspecific protein binding, and other solutions to current lab challenges. "Our product focus is predominately glass- ware. We're trying to create a larger portfolio of products and services around that, while also manufacturing disposable products and customized solutions," Koi says. About the time of the merger, innovators within the new company gathered in Ger- many at DWK's headquarters to forge the way forward. The goal: to address customer challenges with innovative products, using the insights of each of the three companies. "We innovate by leveraging our combined strengths in R&D and manufacturing, in- vesting in innovative technologies, and lis- tening to our customers," Koi says. To that end, a ready-to-use, off-the-shelf vial assembly solution is being readied for launch during Q3 2017. Called Complete- PAK, it is one of the first products devel- oped by the new company. As Koi tells GEN, "It provides preconfigured, presteril- ized, particulate-free glass vials, a selection of rubber stoppers, such as coded or non- coded, and choice of septa to meet specific requirements." The beauty of the product, he says, is that "this is a solution customers could use off the shelf. They don't have to figure it out themselves." The kit is designed to slash con- figuration time, reduce contamination risks, and improve design flexibility. Integrating Three Companies New products are in the future, but right now DWK Life Sciences is focused on completing the corporate integration. New companies, particularly those formed through mergers, experience growing pains that take time and attention to resolve. "Here in North America, the lion's share of the work is to put the former Wheaton and Kimble Chase companies together," points out Koi. "The acquisitions themselves are complete, but company integration is an ongoing process." Currently, that means DWK Life Sciences Company Is Working on Integrating Capabilities of Duran Group, Wheaton, and Kimble Chase DWK Life Sciences Focuses on Combining the Powers of Three Corporate Profile DWK Life Sciences draws on more than 130 years of expertise in designing and manufacturing packaging components for diagnostic tests. In this image, various DWK products for in vitro diagnostic test kits are shown: leak-resistant plastic bottles, a polypropylene well plate, cryogenic storage vials, and high-recovery vials. Insights Industry Watch Personal genomics company Helix and Illumina are partner- ing to support consumer genomics startups. Helix is teaming up with Illumina Accelerator to provide resources and support for innovative entrepreneurs developing DNA-driven products for the consumer market. Illumina Accelerator claims to be the world's first business accelerator focused on supporting genomics startups. The initiative operates on a six-monthly funding cycle to provide successful applicants with seed investment, mentoring busi- ness guidance, laboratory space in the San Francisco Bay area, and access to Illumina sequencing technologies, reagents, and software. Additional match funding can be accessed through the $40 million Illumina Acclerator Boost Capital. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area, Helix was set up in 2015 with support from Illumina, which remains its largest shareholder. The latest partnership between Helix and Illuminator Accelerator will give startups that are devel- oping consumer-centered DNA-powered products access to Helix's specialist expertise in areas spanning next-generation sequencing (NGS), bioinformatics, applied genomics, soft- ware and product development to regulatory affairs, quality assurance, consumer marketing, and business development. "Illumina Accelerator is focused on driving value for ge- nomics startups by providing access to vital resources such as capital, sequencing and genomics expertise, coaching, and local lab and office space," said Mostafa Ronaghi, Ph.D., Illumina's senior vice president, CTO, and cofounder of Illu- mina Accelerator. "By working with Helix during our seventh funding cycle, select startups will have unparalleled access to Helix's commercial market expertise and sequencing plat- form for their consumer applications." Last month, Helix launched its online consumer mar- ketplace for personalized genomics products. Through the service, individuals can order sequencing-based genome analysis through Helix's partners to provide insights into an- cestry, family, fitness health, and nutrition. Helix first collects and sequences an individual's DNA sample and stores the DNA so that products can be ordered from the Helix mar- ketplace without having to provide another saliva sample. The DNA is sequenced at Helix's accredited facilities using the firm's next-generation sequencing (NGS) Exome+ assay, which sequences all 22,000 protein-coding genes, as well as generating additional relevant genomic information. When products are ordered through the marketplace, Helix shares the relevant DNA data with the partner company carrying out the analysis. Genetic counseling is also offered through Genome Medical. n Helix and Illumina Partner on DNA Consumer Product Startups

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