TOKYO Applied Biosystems Japan Ltd. (Tokyo), a wholly owned subsidiary of Applera Corp. (Norwalk, Connecticut), held a seminar titled "iScience Seminar 2003" this past fall at the Grand Pacific Meridian Hotel in Tokyo. Of some 500 participants, about one-third were R&D personnel from pharmaceutical companies and about 50% were basic research scientists from reference labs as well as university research departments.

The seminar was focused on "integrated science." While the products displayed during the meeting were limited to the company's new offerings, namely the Gene Expression Microarray System, which covers whole human genes with complete annotations, and the 8500 Affinity Chip Analyzer, an analysis system that simultaneously analyzes molecular interactions of 400 samples on a single chip, the brochure handed to the participants encompassed Applied Biosystems' entire product line.

The company's 3730/3730x1 High-Fidelity High-Throughput 24-hour Automatic DNA Analyzer, developed in collaboration with Hitachi Ltd. and introduced in April 2002, has an improved throughput, with a capacity more than twice that of conventional models.

Presentations made by domestic and international researchers who are in the forefront of life science research included those by Mark Stevenson, the company's president, titled "What is iScience from Applied Biosystems?" and by Professor Ken-ichi Arai of the chromosome regulatory program in the University of Tokyo's Institute of Medical Science, titled "Medical Science and Genomic Medicine based on Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics." According to Stevenson, iScience refers to the structuring of a platform for development efforts by revolutionary approaches that integrate conventional research efforts with state-of-the-art technologies and informatics.

The seminar also highlighted the difficulties of raising funds in Japan from administrative bodies, as well as from public sectors for start-up biotechnology ventures.

The company holds such programs several times a month throughout the country at various cities; the number and scale of the seminars are unrivaled in the sector.

With 278 employees in Japan, it seems that Applied Biosystems' emphasis is on following up on its promotional campaigns. The company also posts a well-designed, easy-to-understand product introduction on its web site, with functionality superior to distributor-based sales approaches, enabling prospective customers to instantly place orders. There is no binding, conventional relationship between customers and sellers.

Applied Biosystems' web site posts future seminars that are to be held elsewhere in the country, increasing the chances of potential customers being exposed to its products.

The company provides integrated solutions linking experimental data with relevant information in order to improve efficiencies in basic research efforts and new drug development. It provides optimally designed solutions for respective customers by combining its genetic analysis technologies, including-real time polymerase chain reaction, single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping and protein structure analysis.

It appears clear that the company will continue to exert its leadership in the genetic research area within the life sciences industry in Japan.

Paul Makino, BBI Japan Editor