In the mid 1960’s, three scientists – Leif Wide, Rolf Axén and Jerker Porath – convinced Pharmacia’s management to collaborate with them on the commercial development of Pharmacia’s separation medium, Sephadex, as the solid phase in immunodiagnostic testing. This was the first step towards the development of ImmunoDiagnostics.
Simultaneously, immunoglobulin E (or IgE) was discovered by two separate research teams, one in the USA, and one at Uppsala University Hospital (S.G.O. Johansson, Hans Bennich and Leif Wide). At Uppsala University Hospital, the team developed a method to measure the levels of the substance in blood samples and, eventually, a connection was made between IgE antibodies and allergic symptoms. These findings were presented to Pharmacia with the intent of creating a commercial allergy test. With the help of the Sandwich technology, developed by Leif Wide, the product Phadebas RAST was established and, with it, the leading position that ImmunoDiagnostics still holds in allergy testing.
The following is a short summary of the journey from a small R&D group within Pharmacia to the independent, world-leading company that it is today.
- Thermo Fisher Scientific acquires Phadia.
- Introduction of Phadia 2500 and Phadia 5000.
- Introduction of ImmunoCAP ISAC.
- Full acquisition of VBC Genomics.
- The British finance company, Cinven, is the new main owner.
- Acquisition of parts of VBC Genomics.
- The new company name Phadia is introduced.
- ImmunoCAP Rapid, the first allergy point-of-care test for primary care.
- Launch of EliA on ImmunoCAP 250.
- High capacity and automation makes it ideal for laboratories performing 80 to 400 autoimmune tests per day.
- Pharmacia Diagnostics AB is established as a new independent company in Uppsala.
- PPM Venture and Triton are the new main owners.
- ImmunoCAP 250 in introduced – now the ImmunoCAP instrument family is complete, with systems for laboratories of all sizes.
- Pfizer acquires Pharmacia.
- ImmunoCAP 1000 is launched in the rest of the world.
- Concept of interpreting quantitative specific IgE antibody results, in relation to the probability of allergic symptoms, is presented.
- ImmunoCAP 1000 JP, a system specially designed for large laboratories in Japan, is introduced.
- EliA, a new technology enabling the automated handling of autoimmunity tests with ImmunoCAP 100E, is introduced.
- Phadiatop Infant, a yes/no atopy test specially designed for children, is launched.
- Pharmacia & Upjohn acquires Monsanto.
- The new corporate group is called Pharmacia Corporation.
- The name Pharmacia Diagnostics is reintroduced.
- ImmunoCAP 100E, which can also be used for autoimmunity tests, is introduced.
- The German company Elias is acquired – a company with a strong position in the testing of autoimmune diseases.
- Development of autoimmunity tests for UniCAP, as a complement to Elias’ Varelisa, begins.
- Pharmacia merges with the American company Upjohn, and the name is changed to Pharmacia & Upjohn Diagnostics.
- ImmunoCAP 100, the first instrument to integrate automatic sample handling, a processor, measuring equipment and data evaluation, is launched.
- ImmunoCAP chemistry is further improved.
- Procordia buys the Italian company Farmitalia Carlo Erba, and changes the name to Pharmacia.
- The name Pharmacia Diagnostics is reintroduced.
- Diagnostics operations become part of Kabi Pharmacia, now known as Kabi Pharmacia Diagnostics.
- AutoCAP, a new automatic processor for the Pharmacia CAP System, is introduced.
- Procordia, a Swedish company, acquires Pharmacia and merges the pharmaceutical operations with its own pharma company, Kabi.
- Wallay Oy is divested.
- Pharmacia CAP System, the “second-generation RAST” that replaces the old paper disc with a new solid phase, ImmunoCAP, is launched.
- Phadiatop, a yes/no test for inhalation allergy, is launched.
- The Finnish company, Wallac Oy, is acquired.
- Phadezym RAST (RAST with an enzymatic marker instead of a radioactive one) is introduced.
- Pharmacia’s pharmaceutical division launches allergen extracts for immunotherapy, based on Allergon’s high-quality source material.
- Construction of Pharmacia Diagnostics' manufacturing plant in Fyrislund, Uppsala, begins.
- Phadebas IgE PRIST, an improved total IgE test, is introduced.
- Phadebas RAST is launched.
- For the first time, it is possible to measure IgE antibodies to specific allergens; initially the panel includes just a handful of allergens.
- Phadebas IgE Test (for total IgE), the first allergy test, is introduced.
- Pharmacia acquires Allergon AB, a Swedish company that will become a world-leading producer of allergen source material and a cornerstone of Pharmacia Diagnostics’ allergy tests.
- The first product, Phadebas Amylase Test, a test for the enzyme amylase, is introduced.
- IgE was discovered in Uppsala by researchers S.G.O. Johansson, Hans Bennich and Leif Wide.
- A diagnostics group was formed within Pharmacia, and the development of a diagnostic test for IgE measurements was started.