"That purpose is not well-known in the region. We came (to Spokane) to help get that word out," said Spanner.
Several national biotech firms have begun tests of new products through the EMSL labs, said Ron Walters, a deputy director at the facility.
Proprietary agreements prevent identification of those first corporate users, said Spanner.
The most likely users are companies needing sophisticated sensors to track molecular changes from drugs or treatments, said Walters. Another likely group of users, he said, would be agricultural companies developing new seeds or agents to improve crop productivity.
Developers of products can come to the lab in person, or they can operate the sensors entirely by use of a remote network, said Spanner.
Added Walters: "Everything is done with computers. Test tubes no longer exist."
EMSL also hopes to help spur development of biotech companies focused on proteomics -- the study of human proteins, said Walters.
Equipment now in place at EMSL has shortened genetics research time by quantum leaps: "The effort to identify a protein (in a genetic sequence) used to take days of processing," said Walters. "Now it can be done within hours."
Also speaking Wednesday was Michelle Inserra, marketing director for Virion, a Richland start-up company that used PNNL facilities for new product development.
Since its launch four years ago, Virion has completed a first round of tests for a product using chemicals to remove warts and halt their development, Inserra said.
PNNL provided initial help by installing a lab for Virion's use at the Richland Technology Park. PNNL staff also provided technical assistance as Virion developed its product, said Inserra. •Staff writer Tom Sowa can be reached at (509) 459-5492 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org