Pierce Biotechnology
Rockford, IL
Rockford, Illinois
Rockford is a mid-sized city located on both banks of the Rock River in far northern Illinois. Often referred to as "The Forest City", Rockford is the county seat of Winnebago County, Illinois, USA. As reported in the 2010 U.S. census, the city was home to 152,871 people, the third most populated...

-based Pierce Chemical Company was founded in 1948 when Dr. Alan Pierce assumed active management of a company known as Midwest Extraction, which focused on extracting chlorophyll
Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in almost all plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. Its name is derived from the Greek words χλωρος, chloros and φύλλον, phyllon . Chlorophyll is an extremely important biomolecule, critical in photosynthesis, which allows plants to obtain energy from light...

 from alfalfa
Alfalfa is a flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae cultivated as an important forage crop in the US, Canada, Argentina, France, Australia, the Middle East, South Africa, and many other countries. It is known as lucerne in the UK, France, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, and known as...

. Chlorophyll, the material that lends a green color to plants, was discovered in the 1930s to have therapeutic uses including the treatment of infections and burns and was useful for performing amputations.

When Dr. Pierce assumed leadership of the company, his objective was to transition the firm from its humble origins manufacturing chlorophyll to a manufacturer of fine organic
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

 chemicals. His goal came to fruition when in 1950 he changed the name of the company to Pierce Chemical Company and his newly renamed was the first commercial producer of ninhydrin
Ninhydrin is a chemical used to detect ammonia or primary and secondary amines. When reacting with these free amines, a deep blue or purple color known as Ruhemann's purple is produced...

, a chemical used in amino acid
Amino acid
Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

 analysis. For the first several years, the company focused on producing and selling ninhydrin, but it soon began to expand its horizons and look for other products and markets.

In 1965 Roy Oliver succeeded Dr. Pierce as company president; however, Dr. Pierce would stay on at Pierce until his retirement in 1994. During the next few decades, the company expanded its operations internationally when it joined forces with European distributors.

In the 1970s a high-tech industry known as biotechnology
Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bioproducts. Biotechnology also utilizes these products for manufacturing purpose...

 began to emerge. The company's focus soon began to shift from concentrating on manufacturing bulk chemical products toward the development and production of high-purity reagents for biotechnology research.

In 1983 Perstorp AB, a Sweden-based company, purchased Pierce. Perstorp AB was a Swedish manufacturer of chemicals, resins, plastics and laminates.

In 1985 researchers at Pierce Chemical Company, led by Paul K. Smith, published a method detailing the use of bicinchoninic acid (BCA) as a protein quantitation reagent. The BCA protein assay
Bicinchoninic acid assay
The bicinchoninic acid assay , also known as the Smith assay, after its inventor, Paul K. Smith at the Pierce Chemical Company, is a biochemical assay for determining the total level of protein in a solution , similar to Lowry protein assay, Bradford protein assay or biuret reagent...

 method maintains the high sensitivity and low variability among proteins associated with the Lowry protein assay
Lowry protein assay
The Lowry protein assay is a biochemical assay for determining the total level of protein in a solution. The total protein concentration is exhibited by a color change of the sample solution in proportion to protein concentration, which can then be measured using colorimetric techniques. It is...

, while providing increased tolerance to the presence of non-ionic detergents and buffer salts. The BCA assay has since become one of the most widely-used methods of protein quantitation.

Pierce was recognized for its international marketing efforts in 1990 when it received the US President's "E" Award for success in exporting. Only 24 "E" awards were presented nationwide that year.

In 1995 Pierce Chemical Company introduced the patented SuperSignal Chemiluminescent Substrate for the chemiluminescent detection of biological molecules such as antibodies or pharmaceuticals. Chemiluminescence is the emission of light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

 that occurs when a chemical reaction
Chemical reaction
A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. Chemical reactions can be either spontaneous, requiring no input of energy, or non-spontaneous, typically following the input of some type of energy, such as heat, light or electricity...

 (in this case, between the SuperSignal Substrate and the tagged biological molecule) yields light. Researchers preserve the light signal on X-ray film
Radiography is the use of X-rays to view a non-uniformly composed material such as the human body. By using the physical properties of the ray an image can be developed which displays areas of different density and composition....

 or read the signal directly using an imager. Use of chemiluminescent technology allows researchers to replace radioactive tracers for greater personal safety and much less ecological impact.

The introduction of SuperSignal Substrate was one of many product introductions that propelled Pierce Chemical Company to become a leader in the areas of protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

 sample preparation, protein function and modification
Modification may refer to:*Modifications of school work for students with special educational needs*Modifications *Posttranslational modifications*Mod *Modified car*Body modification*Grammatical modifier-See also:...

, and protein detection. The company would soon change its name to Pierce Biotechnology, Inc. to reflect its focus and expertise on these growing areas.

In June 1998 Pierce's parent company, Perstorp AB, announced several organizational changes, including the establishment of the separate Perstorp Life Science Division of which Pierce was a key player. In 1999, the Perstorp Life Science Division was spun off into its own company, Perbio Science AB. The new company was listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange
Stockholm Stock Exchange
The Stockholm Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located in Stockholm, Sweden. Founded in 1863 it is the primary securities exchange of the Nordic Countries....

 O List in October 1999.

In August 2003, Fisher Scientific International announced its intent to purchase Perbio Science AB.

In November 2006, Thermo Electron
Thermo Electron
Thermo Electron Corporation was a major provider of analytical instruments and services for a variety of domains.Thermo had revenues of over $2 billion, and employed 11,000 people in 30 countries....

 and Fisher Scientific International merged to form Thermo Fisher Scientific
Thermo Fisher Scientific
Thermo Fisher Scientific is a large life sciences supply company that was created in 2006 by the merger of Thermo Electron and Fisher Scientific.-Predecessors and merger:...

. Today, the company formerly known as Pierce Chemical Company and Pierce Biotechnology Inc. is the research & development and manufacturing location for Thermo Scientific Pierce Protein Research Products.

In July 2008, Thermo Fisher Scientific acquired antibody provider Affinity BioReagents (ABR), and has merged them with Pierce Protein Research, creating the Pierce Antibodies website http://www.pierce-antibodies.com.

External links

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