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NEXUS Biosystems acquires sister company Aurora Biotechnologies
January 2010
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author


POWAY, Calif. – With private equity firm Telegraph Hill Partners (THP) acting as the honest broker, NEXUS Biosystems Inc. announced in December its acquisition of Aurora Biotechnologies.

Telegraph Hill is the majority investor in NEXUS and Aurora is another THP-portfolio company. NEXUS president and CEO John Lillig notes that there are true synergies in the new combination.

"We're a leading innovator and worldwide provider of automated sample management systems and Aurora—just 30 miles away in Carlsbad, Calif.—is a leading developer of proprietary, high-performance microplates for use in sample storage systems such as ours. Combining the technologies and personnel of Aurora with Nexus will enable us to provide a wider spectrum of products for our current and future customers around the world."

NEXUS represents a highly successful variant of the biotech startup. Launched only four years ago, the company has become one of the leaders in its product category and is "making money on the bottom line," Lillig states.

"With the recent launch of our automated -80°C BioStore line of sample management systems and our new XPeel microplate de-sealer, 2009 has been a strong growth year for Nexus," he says. "As we head into 2010 with the acquisition of Aurora Biotechnologies, we are very excited about the opportunity to expand our product reach beyond automated sample management into high-throughput biochemical, cell-based and genomic screening applications."  

Aurora's staff will make the 30-mile hike to work at NEXUS headquarters in Poway, with Aurora president and chief technical officer Dr. Peter Coassin becoming vice president of science. Dr. Rhett Affleck, who currently holds that position at NEXUS, will become vice president of technology.

The automated storage systems developed and marketed by NEXUS are Brobdingnagian in both size and capability. Many cost $1 million or more and can process 100,000 samples per day. The units can handle an array of storage container types­—tubes, vials, racks and plates—with multiple pickers on the front of the system.

At sanofi-aventis, Lillig notes, the NEXUS system is a two-story, 34-foot-tall arrangement that provides access to chemists working on the first level and biologists upstairs. NEXUS also stores millions of pharma compounds and biological materials such as blood and DNA at its facility. Customers ask for samples and run tests for biomarker, personalized medicine and other studies.

Coassin notes that "Aurora's understanding of key processes in assay technologies and consumables makes us a great fit with the Nexus sample management and sample processing technologies. The combination of the two companies is timely as the research market is looking for cost-saving, high quality, efficiency-enhancing solutions." Aurora serves the discovery research markets with unique, cyclo-olefin, optically pure consumable microplate products that enable high-throughput analysis of chemical compounds and cellular assays. Absolutely flat plastic sheets are molded into the frame of the plates to produce a broad range of high performance microplate designs, including 96-, 384-, 1,536- and 3,456-well plates.
NEXUS has already added two people to the Aurora group, John Lillig adds, and the Aurora product line will also benefit from access to NEXUS' sales network via its European subsidiary NEXUS Biosystems GmbH in Munich, Germany, and its distribution offices throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.
Code: E011010



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