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After restructuring, Transgenomic leans on services


With the layoff of 60 employees and the sale of its money-losing oligonucleotide-manufacturing facility announced in November, Transgenomic aims to save between $10 million and $12 million annually.

“We really see the transformation of our revenues from more of a hardware provider to more of a services and maintenance provider as you look out into the future,” Transgenomic CFO Mike Summers says.

“Certainly what is positive is that we’re getting rid of a business unit that has dragged us down over the last 12 months,” adds Stan Lilleberg, director of Transgenomic’s translational and clinical research. “Basically, that frees us up to do other things.”

The company “grew up” in the systems business, and it has remained Transgenomics’ core competency, Summers says. The company consists of the Wave platform and its derivatives, a consumables division (which sells oligonucleotides), and a services division.

Before last month’s layoffs, Transgenomic last reduced staff in late 2002, when about 80 jobs were eliminated in a bid to cut costs and balance lackluster sales of the Wave platform.

What followed was a disappointing 2003, but it was capped by one bright spot for the company’s services unit: an open-ended mutation-discovery deal with Novartis, which is ongoing. Although details of the deal were never announced, it was believed to be potentially one of the more lucrative agreements Transgenomic had entered into in some time. The services division has not announced any agreements since then that are of comparable potential magnitude.

Good news for 2004 included distribution agreements with Nanogen and SpectruMedix; a manufacturing support deal with Regado Biosciences; and a continuation of its supply contract with Geron.

— Chris Womack



US Patent 6,825,336. Polymorphisms in known genes associated with osteoporosis, methods of detection and uses thereof. Inventors: Craig Venter, Jinghui Zhang, Xiangjun Liu, William Rowe, Anibal Cravchik, Francis Kalush, Ashwinikumar Naik, Gangadharan Subramanian, and Trevor Woodage. Assignee: Applera. Issued: November 30, 2004.

The invention covers novel polymorphisms in genes known to contribute to osteoporosis. According to the abstract, “The present invention provides reagents used for detecting and expressing the variant nucleic acid/protein sequence as well as methods of identifying and using these variants.”


US Patent 6,828,103. Genetic polymorphisms of estrogen receptor alpha associated with favorable response to hormone replacement therapy. Inventors: David Herrington, Timothy Howard, Gregory Hawkins, Deborah Meyers. Assignee: Wake Forest University. Issued: December 7, 2004.

The method “comprises detecting the presence of the rare form of at least one estrogen receptor alpha polymorphism in the subject … indicating the subject is more likely to have a favorable response to estrogen replacement therapy,” according to the abstract.




$ 5 million

Amount of a grant from the Macdonald Foundation awarded to the University of Miami School of Medicine. The money will allow the school to create Miami GeneCure Diagnostics, the first comprehensive medical genetics diagnostic laboratory in Florida.


In a new draft guidance issued late last year, the US FDA suggests that all antiretroviral drugs in development or on the market should be tested for HIV resistance. The data collected would be useful to diagnostic and pharmaceutical companies as well as physicians, and may be a step toward broader use of pharmacogenomics.


Invitrogen and the Mayo Clinic teamed up to develop diagnostic biomarkers and detection technologies for cancer and general laboratory medicine. The collaboration marks the tool giant’s first direct foray into diagnostics.


With a $1.1 million Fast Track SBIR grant in its pocket, RxGen will use its predictive toxicology program to identify genomic markers for Parkinson’s disease. RxGen, which will look at possible toxic environmental causes of the disease, will profile in vivo brain RNA expression patterns to find pathways specific to dopamine-related receptors.


Genaissance Pharmaceuticals and animal breeding firm Sygen International will work together in an animal genotyping study. They will study three meat animal species.


During commentary on the Critical Path initiative in a webcast produced by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Mathias Hukkelhoven, SVP and global head of drug regulatory affairs of Novartis, urged sharing biomarker data among industry. He said this would prove advantageous for the field so long as pharmas could protect their IP.


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