The deal brings together two of the main suppliers of products and services that support disease research, drug discovery, and commercial bio-production.
The agreement also serves as an indication of the trend towards using cellular screening in drug R&D.
Under the terms of the agreement, the marketing partnership will provide pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with high throughput cellular screening solutions of ion channels. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Ion channels have long been recognised as critical therapeutic targets implicated in many human physiological roles and for drug safety testing.
The collaboration will additionally create a reproducible platform for ion-channel drug discovery, replacing or improving previous studies, which were limited to slow, non-robust and labour intensive methods.
Traditional screening methods (fluorescent dyes, radiometric flux, and binding assays) are indirect measures of ion channel activity.
Electrophysiological techniques combined with pharmacology provide the most detailed and direct way to study ion channel function.
However, conventional electrophysiological techniques do not meet the throughput demands of large compound library screening.
Under the terms of the agreement, Invitrogen's Voltage Sensor Probes (VSP) ion channel reagents will be combined with PerkinElmer's CellLux Fluorescence Cellular Screening Platform.
"With the pharmaceutical industry's increased pressure to fill drug pipelines with more effective drug targets, this partnership will help our customers in transitioning to cellular screening, to drive fundamental productivity improvements into the drug discovery and development process," said Peter Coggins, president, PerkinElmer Life and Analytical Sciences.
"This latest partnership is consistent with our strategy for expanding our cellular sciences portfolio, enabling drug companies to adopt more predictive and productive methodologies to increase their downstream success rates and allow drug candidates to get to the clinic sooner," he added.
Ion channel modulators form an extremely successful drug class, generating by our estimates over $12 billion ((€9.8 billion) in revenues in 2002.
Examples include Pfizer's anti-hypertensive Norvasc ($4 billion sales in 2003), which decreases the contractility of cardiac muscle by blocking calcium channels expressed on cardiac muscle cells.
Other examples include Ambien and Xanax, which are used for insomnia and anxiety, respectively, and act by increasing chloride flux through neuronal anion channels; these drugs together have generated nearly $2 billion in annual sales.
Another class - the sulfonylureas - as well as more recently discovered rapid insulin releasers (Prandin, Starlix), lower blood glucose in diabetics by inhibiting potassium channels on the pancreatic cells that secrete insulin
"The combination of PerkinElmer's versatile CellLux Platform and our VSP ion channel reagents has set a new standard for assay development and high throughput cellular screening that will allow drug makers to provide more effective drugs faster, without sacrificing quality or cost," added Nick Ecos, vice president and general manager of Invitrogen Corporation's Drug Discovery Solutions business.