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Bruker extends microscopy offering with JPK acquisition

16 Jul 2018

Optical tweezers and fluorescence imaging techniques augment instrumentation firm’s burgeoning portfolio.

The Massachusetts-headquartered scientific instrumentation giant Bruker has acquired JPK Instruments, extending its microscopy offering with the addition of live-cell imaging, optical trapping, and a variety of other cutting-edge techniques.

While financial terms were not disclosed, Bruker said that JPK posted revenues of around €10 million in 2017, thanks to sales of its various forms of microscopy equipment.

“JPK provides microscopy instrumentation for biomolecular and cellular imaging, as well as force measurements on single molecules, cells and tissues,” announced the company, adding:

“Over the past five years, Bruker has developed a life science microscopy business that specializes in advanced technologies for neuroscience, live-cell imaging, and molecular imaging, which will be further augmented by JPK's advanced technologies and applications.”

Student founders
Founded by three students - Torsten Jähnke (J), Frank Pelzer (P), and Jörn Kamps (K) - at Humboldt University in Berlin using their own money back in October 1999, JPK’s initial focus was on atomic force microscopy (AFM).

Since then the firm has expanded its footprint globally, opening satellite offices in the UK, Japan, China and the US, and in 2008 launched its “Nanotracker” force-sensing optical tweezers platform.

In 2013 that was followed by the “Nanotracker 2” combined optical tweezers and optical trapping scheme, while in 2016 JPK introduced what it described as the world’s first combination of optical tweezers and AFM.

“The unique combination of 3D positioning, detection, and manipulation provided by optical trapping and the high-resolution imaging and surface property characterization of AFM opens up a whole new spectrum of applications, such as cellular response, cell-cell or cell matrix interactions, immune response, infection or bacterial/virus/nanoparticle uptake processes, and more,” states JPK on its web site.

The firm’s “NanoWizard 4” AFM also combines the atomic force technique with advanced optical fluorescence imaging and super-resolution microscopy, for what Bruker describes as “the ultimate combination in image resolution for molecules, membranes, and live cells”.

Growing portfolio
Commenting on the Bruker deal, JPK co-founder and now CTO Jähnke said: “The business we have built aligns well with the new strategic direction of Bruker in life science microscopy, and we are very pleased to join them. We plan to realize a number of valuable synergies going forward.”

Bruker's existing portfolio of fluorescence microscopy techniques already includes multiphoton microscopy, swept-field confocal microscopy, super-resolution microscopy, and single-plane illumination microscopy.

Mark Munch, president of the “Bruker NANO” business unit into which JPK will move, said: “We have been making a substantial investment in advanced technologies for life science imaging, and have built up a portfolio of fluorescence microscopy products that enable biologists in research areas that require deep, fast imaging at high resolution and at low phototoxicity. JPK's products and applications capabilities nicely augment our current techniques.”

Other recent acquisitions by Bruker in the area of optical microscopy have included the Raman and infrared spectroscopy specialist Anasys Instruments, the Heidelberg-based European Molecular Biology Laboratory spin-out Luxendo, and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy developer Vutara.

SPECTROGON ABSynopsys, Optical Solutions GroupPhotonTec Berlin GmbHart Photonics GmbHKnight Optical LtdAlluxaDataRay Inc.
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