Original SIRTI client Matrical Bioscience, of Spokane, sold to Brooks Automation

Matrical Bioscience in Spokane has been sold for about $10 million to Brooks Automation, a publicly traded company.

Matrical manufactures machines that can manage thousands of tubes and vials that contain pharmaceuticals or tissue samples.

The firm began operations in California and Pennsylvania and relocated to Spokane in 2002 as one of the original clients of the former Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute.

With offices now at 1003 E. Trent Ave., Matrical has 45 workers in Spokane making machines for drug development companies and health science researchers, co-founder Dan Roark said.

Brooks Automation is an international firm with headquarters in Massachusetts. Its primary area is providing automation and instruments for multiple markets, including semiconductor manufacturing and life sciences research.

The deal will have no immediate effect on Matrical’s workforce or customers, Roark said.

With Brooks’ international sales force and marketing clout, he said, it’s possible the Spokane office will expand.

The purchase of Matrical shows Brooks is now focused on growing business in the life sciences market with an emphasis in chemical and biological sample storage and testing, Roark said.

Matrical’s success has been built on successful sales of several key automated units used by major pharmaceutical, biotech, academic institutes and hospitals in the United States and abroad.

Its lineup of products includes the MiniStore, a robotic and environmentally controlled freezer for storing chemical libraries used by drug-developing customers.

Matrical has also developed and sells the NitroStore, a similar robotic system that cryogenically stores tissues, blood, DNA and RNA for long-term preservation; those samples are collectively referred to as biobanks.

The U.S. Veterans Administration has purchased and is using a NitroStore system for a long-term study, called the Million Veteran Program. Launched in 2011, the study looks to identify connections between medical issues in military vets and their tissue factors.

The NitroStore system can collect and manage up to 4 million samples. The samples and key related data are stored securely to protect veterans’ private health information.

With more than 210,000 service members enrolled so far, the research program is now the largest VA research program ever mounted, according to U.S. Army reports.

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