Firefly BioWorks Announces Strategic Partnership with EMD Millipore

October 16, 2013

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts-- Firefly BioWorks announced today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with EMD Millipore, the Life Science division of Merck KGaA of Darmstadt, Germany.  Under the terms of the agreement, EMD Millipore will lead global distribution of the Firefly™ microRNA Assay, the first product to be developed on the Firefly™ Discovery Platform. Marketed by EMD Millipore under the name SmartRNAPlex™, the assay enables rapid profiling of up to 68 microRNA targets per sample in a 96-well plate format using standard flow cytometers.

SmartRNAPlex™ is a powerful new addition to Millipore’s growing portfolio of RNA profiling products. Until now, analyzing large numbers of samples across multiple microRNAs required splitting the samples into parallel qPCR reactions or using low-throughput technologies such as microarrays. SmartRNAPlex™ overcomes this limitation, affording the user both multiplexing and high-throughput capabilities. SmartRNAPlex™ is designed for the large installed base of standard flow cytometers, which significantly decreases adoption costs.  This new tool promises to accelerate the pace of microRNA biomarker validation and catalyze the translation of basic biological understanding into clinical diagnostics and drug discovery applications.

To aid with the design of microRNA profiling studies, the company has developed the Firefly™ Discovery Engine. This web-based tool automatically generates a list of the most relevant microRNAs and associated genes for any keyword or topic by parsing the scientific literature.

“By virtue of its flexibility and universality, the Firefly™ Discovery Platform lends itself naturally to profiling a wide array of biomarkers in a multiplexed and rapidly customizable fashion,” said Davide Marini, CEO of Firefly BioWorks. “We are thrilled to work with the leader in benchtop flow cytometry. Our goal is to offer all scientists, especially those facing budget constraints, the opportunity to perform large validation studies that would otherwise require expensive and dedicated instrumentation.”

“We look forward to launching this exciting new product across our line of flow cytometry instruments,” said Anthony Artuso, VP of Strategy and Business Development at EMD Millipore.  “As the key role of non-coding RNAs becomes increasingly recognized, we are pleased to announce the inclusion of this microRNA assay in our product line.”

Firefly’s Scientific Advisory Board includes Prof. Victor Ambros, who led the team of scientists that discovered microRNA. The company is funded in part by research grants from the National Cancer Institute under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. “We are very pleased to see Firefly succeed in the marketplace.  This is a great example of how private and public funds can be synergistically utilized to bring new technologies to market, create jobs, accelerate clinical research and ultimately improve patient care,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.


About Firefly BioWorks

Firefly BioWorks offers an integrated platform for planning, executing and interpreting research studies.  Comprising physical assays and bioinformatics tools, this platform is designed to accelerate the identification of relevant biomarkers for clinical diagnostics and drug discovery applications.  The technology grew out of pioneering work by Dr. Daniel Pregibon and Prof. Patrick Doyle, both Firefly co-founders, in the Chemical Engineering Department at MIT.  


About EMD Millipore

EMD Millipore is the Life Science division of Merck KGaA of Germany and offers a broad range of products and services to enable research, development and production of biotechnology and pharmaceutical drug therapies. As one of the top three R&D investors in the Life Sciences Tools industry, EMD Millipore serves as a strategic partner to customers and helps advance the promise of life sciences research.  Headquartered in Billerica, Massachusetts, the division has around 10,000 employees and operations in 67 countries.


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