Bio-Rad's New Digital Biology Center

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Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (BIO), a worldwide provider of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, recently inaugurated its Digital Biology Center for the development of products based on the droplet partitioning technology acquired by the company last year.

Following the acquisition, Bio-Rad introduced its first product with this technology, QX100 Droplet Digital PCR system, the third generation of the polymerase chain reaction (:PCR) technology.

This new PCR technology, which adopts advanced methods for nucleic acid quantification, is widely accepted among researchers. The company claims that Droplet Digital PCR has the potential to provide new strategies for diagnosis of inherited disorders, cancer and infectious disease. Bio-Rad also expects the prospects of this instrument to extend the scope of the digital PCR market.

To increase its Life Science business, earlier in October 2011, Bio-Rad purchased QuantaLife, Inc., the developer of Droplet Digital PCR technology, for a total consideration of $179.4 million. Integrating with the QuantaLife business, Bio-Rad aimed to further expand its advanced methods of quantitative PCR. It also expected the portfolio of QuantaLife to complement its existing amplification business.

Bio-Rad is currently focused on expansion in both Life Science and Clinical Diagnostics segments through acquisitions and asset purchases. Apart from the QuantaLifeacquisition, in January 2012, the company purchased certain assets from a raw materials supplier for approximately $15.5 million.

This asset acquisition is expected to secure the supply of critical raw materials, thus lowering overall costs in the Clinical Diagnostics segment of the company. Earlier in 2011, Bio-Rad acquired DiaMed Thailand and DiaMed Spain.

Bio-Rad operates and conducts business in many countriesoutside the U.S. As a result, the company is exposed to movements in foreign currency exchange rates.

The company’s major competitors in the Life Science market include Life Technologies (LIFE) and Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO). In the Clinical Diagnostics market, the company competes with Roche (RHHBY) and Abbott Laboratories (ABT). The stock carries a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold rating in the short term).

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