Molecular Dynamics (acquired by Amersham, GE Health)

Brief Description

The development of high speed, high throughput and highly accurate DNA sequencing methods was one prerequisite for the success of the Human Genome Project. In answer to this need, Richard Mathies and his lab at UC Berkeley developed a new method called capillary array electrophoresis (CAE) where multiple separations could be performed in parallel using bundles of microcapillaries and allowed the generation of over 2.8 million bases in 24 h.

Molecular Dynamics was acquired by Nycomed Amersham Pharmacia Biotech for approximately $256 million in 1998. Amersham was acquired by GE Healthcare for £5.7 billion in 2003.

This technology was patented and licensed to Sunnyvale, CA based-Molecular Dynamics.  The Mathies technology was marketed as MegaBACETM, and established Molecular Dynamics as a major player in the development of DNA sequence and analysis systems.  Molecular Dynamics followed up this success story by licensing another UC Berkeley technology developed by the Mathies lab: imaging systems for filmless autoradiography, fluorescence and chemifluorescence imaging, which came to be marketed as the StormTM, and the TyphoonTM.  The StormTM  provides five orders of linear dynamic range ensure accurate, publication-quality results on the first exposure, while the TyphoonTM contains powerful excitation sources and innovative high-quality confocal optics allow for the sensitive detection of low-abundance targets.  Also, its automated four-color fluorescence scanning allows multiplexing of multiple targets in the same sample ensuring accuracy of analysis, increased throughput.

The promising sales revenue generated from the sales of these technologies led to the acquisition of Molecular Dynamics by Amersham Biosciences Inc., which quickly captured a significant share of the sequencing market.  In 2004 Amersham Biosciences Inc. was acquired by GE Healthcare.


Tech Category

  • Research Tools