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Company Profile

Protea’s state-of-the-art bioanalytical technologies can simultaneously identify proteins and metabolites produced by cells, even provide 2- and 3-dimensional molecular imaging of the molecules localized in tissue samples.

Our business is “molecular information” – we provide new capabilities to identify the many diverse types of molecules that are the natural products of all living cells and life forms. Our customers use the molecular information we provide to achieve their research objectives in the fields of pharmaceutical research, medical diagnosis and agriculture.

“Molecular information” refers to the generation and bioinformatic processing of very large data sets, obtained by pur technology, to identify and characterize the proteins, metabolites, lipids and other biomolecules that are the byproducts of all living cells and life forms.

We apply our technology to the development of next generation, “direct molecular imaging” capabilities that enable more rapid and comprehensive molecular profiling of human disease.

“We are leading a new and promising era in biology, one where new bioanalytical technologies will rapidly, directly and simultaneously identify proteins, metabolites, lipids in cells and tissue samples, where even their molecular interactions in cells can be visualized.”
                  – Steve Turner, CEO

Company History
Protea was founded in 2001 by Steve Turner and a team of scientists at the Department of Chemistry, West Virginia University, with the Mission to develop products that improve the recovery, analysis and identification of all types of biomolecules that are produced by living cells. During its early years, the company developed a number of proprietary products, including a microchip-based protein recovery system, protein standards for mass spectrometry, ultrapure MALDI matrices, and Progenta surfactants, optimized to recover proteins without interfering with downstream analysis by mass spectrometry.

During 2008-2012, Protea expanded its position in the Bioanalytics market by entering into an exclusive, worldwide license agreement with The George Washington University for the revolutionary LAESI (Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization) technology platform. Invented in the laboratory of Akos Vertes, PhD., Professor of Chemistry and founder and co-director of the W.M. Keck Institute for Proteomics Technology, GWU. LAESI is a breakthrough technology that enables the identification of biomolecules (proteins, lipids, metabolites) in tissue sections and cells, without requiring any sample preparation. Results are available in seconds to minutes, and comprehensive, permanent molecular databases can be generated on all types of biological samples.

From 2012 through 2013, Protea launched the LAESI DP-1000: the first commercial embodiment of our proprietary LAESI platform technology, enabling many “first ever” capabilities including the ability to drill into and analyze small cell subpopulations, the analysis of live cells, cell lines and bacterial colonies, all by direct analysis without sample preparation. The LAESI DP-1000 received industry recognition, being selected as one of the “R&D; 100” top new inventions, and recipient of the 2012 Pittcon Bronze Award. With over 50 peer-reviewed publications, LAESI has today achieved scientific and market acceptance as a next generation, disruptive bioanalytics platform.

In 2014, Protea focused on strengthening our core business franchise by establishing our position as the world commercial leader in “Mass Spec Imaging” (MSI) services: a new, emerging sector of the molecular information market, where we employ our state-of-the-art capabilities to identify and image large numbers of molecules in tissue samples without time consuming and costly sample preparation. MSI offers breakthrough capabilities for pharmaceutical research and medical diagnostics. Protea is the commercial leader in this field.

Protea integrated our MSI services with existing state-of-the-art analytical methods to enable identification of both large and small molecules in all types of biological samples. This powerful combination gives Protea the unique ability to simultaneously analyze different classes of molecules, including proteins, lipids and metabolites.

In 2014, a number of Protea clients elected to purchase their own LAESI system for in-house use. These customers included Dow Chemical, the USDA, and George Washington and Princeton Universities. Protea also expanded its Molecular Information Services customer base, which now includes several of the world’s leading pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and healthcare companies.

In 2014, Protea teamed with George Washington University (GWU), Stanford Research Institute (SRI) International, and GE Global Research, for a cooperative agreement from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) “Rapid Threat Assessment (RTA)” program. The consortium was awarded up to $14.6 million. The goal of DARPA’s Rapid Threat Assessment (RTA) program is to develop new tools and methods to rapidly define the mechanism of action of a threat agent, drug, biologic or chemical on living cells – within 30 days from the time of exposure. Uncovering the mechanism of action of such agents in 30 days, compared to the years currently required, will aid the development of threat mitigations and countermeasures.
…innovations for bioanalytics