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Becton, Dickinson and Co. Acquires UCSB-Linked Sirigen Group Limited

Company's unique polymer dyes offer significant potential in health-care molecular diagnostics

Becton, Dickinson and Co., a leading global medical technology company, announced Monday that it has acquired Sirigen Group Limited, a developer of unique polymer dyes that are used in flow cytometry and can be applied to other technologies.

UCSB professors Guillermo Bazan, left, and Alan Heeger, whose work is at the core of Sirigen Group Limited.
UCSB professors Guillermo Bazan, left, and Alan Heeger, whose work is at the core of Sirigen Group Limited. (Sirigen Group Limited photo)

Sirigen is a company originally founded by world-renowned UCSB material scientist and professor Guillermo Bazan along with Dr. Brent Gaylord and Patrick Dietzen.

The company’s technology is based on Nobel Prize-winning research conducted by professor Alan Heeger in conductive plastics and creates the potential for the development of novel dyes that are four to 100 times brighter than conventional dyes — a breakthrough in the field.

The company is a spin-out success story for the UCSB Technology Management Program. Dietzen and Gaylord (then students at UCSB) won the university’s business plan competition in 2003, founded the company shortly thereafter, and licensed all the key intellectual property exclusively from UCSB.

Sirigen’s technology has significant potential in health-care molecular diagnostics, where it offers dramatic advantages in speed, sensitivity and portability. The company makes ultra-bright fluorescent dyes based on a novel set of materials, which are currently used in flow cytometry, a technique for counting and examining molecular biomarkers by suspending them in fluid. It can be used to diagnose blood cancers and for other medical uses.

“Sirigen’s technology is now enabling new contributions in many fields due to its brilliant discovery power and will lead to breakthroughs in health-care diagnostic capabilities,” said Dietzen, one of the company’s founders and former president. “The company is a superb example of what University of California students and professors can accomplish. I named the company in 2003 after the star Sirius, which is the brightest star in the night sky. Sirigen’s materials are equally as bright in the molecular world.”

Dietzen is now part of venture capital group DoubleRock and looking for the next Sirigen story.

“This new technology is a natural complement to our instrument platforms and reagent portfolio,” said Alberto Mas, president of BD Biosciences. “We believe that the acquisition will enable us to develop a continuous cadence of novel, unique dyes and antibody specificity releases over the next two years, significantly expanding our life science research reagent portfolio with high-impact products.”

“This acquisition is one more example of our pursuit of growth through innovation, in this case investing in a unique technology that enables us to differentiate our life science research reagent portfolio and add value for customers,” said William Kozy, BD’s executive vice president.

Becton Dickinson did not disclose the terms of the acquisition. However, on a GAAP basis, BD expects the transaction will be dilutive to fiscal year 2012 earnings per share by about 1 cent.

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