HAMBURG, Germany ¿ GeneScan Europe AG, of Freiburg, Germany, has been founded to bundle activities and to expand internationally in the fast growing market of chip-based DNA testing.

GeneScan Europe AG, of Freiburg, Germany, has been founded as a holding of five German Biotech companies: Hanse Analytik GmbH, of Bremen; and Gene-Scan GmbH; BioChip Technologies GmbH; BIG Biotech GmbH; and Laborshop GmbH, all in Freiburg. Hanse Analytik and Gene-Scan are pioneers in analysis of food based on DNA probes and special dyes. They provide test kits and services to rapidly analyze food for adulterations, bacterial contamination and transgenic ingredients.

BioChip Technologies has concentrated on the development of DNA chips for the automated analysis of food and other samples. BIG Biotech, a spin-off of the Max-Planck-Institute for Immunobiology, of Freiburg, Germany, offers custom synthesis of peptides and oligonucleotides with a wide range of modifications and specialties. The fifth company, LaborShop, has been founded to centralize purchasing for the other companies and, in addition, serves as a merchant wholesaler of lab equipment and expendable articles.

¿The foundation of GeneScan Europe AG creates enormous synergies,¿ Ulrich Birsner, director of the newly founded corporation, told BioWorld International. ¿BIG Biotech produces molecules, BioChip Technologies puts them onto chip-arrays, and Hanse Analytik and Gene-Scan GmbH provide customers and market opportunities.¿ In the European market of DNA-based food analysis Gene-Scan and Hanse Analytik held a market share of 40 percent to 50 percent and 30 percent to 40 percent respectively, he added.

Michael M|ller, marketing head of Hanse Analytik, said, ¿We want to become really big. Alone, each of us would have been too small to achieve this aim. Niches for small companies are getting smaller and smaller as bigger companies enter the market, and sooner or later, the technological advantage [will be] shrinking, too. So, it is wise to join forces.¿

GeneScan Europe AG will provide services for the subsidiaries in terms of sales and marketing, Birsner said. ¿It is our aim to maintain market leadership in Europe, to strengthen our position and to get access to overseas markets,¿ he said. Gene-Scan and Hanse Analytik had already established license laboratories in Austria, Italy, and Scandinavia. Currently, a laboratory for the French market is set up in Colmar, France, and subsidiaries and cooperative efforts are planned in the U.K., Greece, and Australia.

In the U.S., Hanse Analytik has co-founded Central Hanse Analytical Laboratories in Louisiana, together with Central Analytical Laboratories, of Belle Chasse, La., in December of last year. Central Hanse is a laboratory company providing DNA and genetically modified organism testing in an area where most of the grain, corn, soy beans etc. are exported. n