Fitchburg biotech Promega Corp. is in the national spotlight for developing a product that emits a bright blue light to help researchers keep an eye on specific proteins. 

The Scientist magazine has singled out Promega's HiBiT (pronounced: HI-bit) Protein Tagging System as one of the Top 10 Innovations of 2017, saying the technology "excels at measuring protein levels across the cell."

HiBiT, introduced by Promega in August, consists of 11 amino acids that can be attached to a protein to track it.

"One of the reasons it's exciting is that it is really small," said Amy Landreman, Promega global product manager. "And we've developed detection reagents that make that protein glow really brightly ... The blue light can be easily measured to quantify the protein."

Landreman said drug companies can use it in their research to see if their compounds are effective treatments.

The technology "brings the benefits of two worlds together that researchers dreamed about" -- a sensitive way to measure proteins using a small tag, said Eunice Park, director of cell pharmacology and chemical biology at C4 Therapeutics, of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

HiBiT is part of a "huge portfolio" of luminescence products Promega has invented, Landreman said. In fact, this is the fourth time in six years The Scientist has named Promega's products among its top 10 annual innovations.

Landreman said the recognition from The Scientist could boost sales. "One of our first goals is just raising awareness. So this type of honor helps us to reach a broader audience and get more researchers interested in our technologies," she said.

Promega has nearly 1,500 employees worldwide, including nearly 900 in Dane County, with $386 million revenue in fiscal 2017.

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Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.