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Agilent Technologies, Applied Biosystems, Luminex, Sequenom, PerkinElmer, Affymetrix, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Beckman Coulter, Invitrogen, Nanogen, Ventana Medical Systems, Roche, Nanosphere

Agilent to Acquire Robotics Firm Velocity11
Agilent Technologies said last week that it has inked a deal to buy Velocity11, a private life science lab technology company, for an undisclosed sum.
Agilent believes the acquisition will strengthen its automated sample-preparation offerings across a broad range of applications.
Velocity11 designs, makes, and markets robotic solutions including stand-alone, bench-top, and multi-armed robotic systems. The company also markets software designed to control the robotics in its products.
Agilent said it would offer jobs to “substantially all of Velocity11’s approximately 150 employees worldwide.”
Velocity11 is based in Menlo Park, Calif., with a second office in Melbourn, Hertfordshire, UK, and has field sales and support “throughout the US and Western Europe.”
Nick Roelofs, Agilent's VP of life science systems and solutions, said the acquisition will help the firm offer automated solutions that can “speed drug discovery and genetic research.”
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

Applied Biosystems to Market Covaris Sample-Prep Instrument with SOLiD System
Applied Biosystems will sell Covaris’ sample preparation systems to support its SOLiD System genetic analyzers, Covaris said this week.
Under the agreement, ABI will market and support the Covaris S2 sample-prep instrument system, which is based on the company’s Adaptive Focused Acoustic technology.
Covaris said this technology uses bead handling and fragment and mate-pair library compilation to speed bead reaction and DNA shearing, enabling generation of up to 35 base pairs of sequence data.
Jim Laugharn, president and CEO of Woburn, Mass-based Covaris, said the firm’s instrument “can be used for both high intensity shearing of genomic DNA with one sample and for controlled, gentle mixing of enzymatic reaction beads in the next sample.”

Luminex Q3 Net Loss Lowered on Valuation of Acquired Tm Assets
Luminex said last week that it has completed a preliminary valuation of acquired intangible assets related to its March acquisition of Tm Bioscience, which has since been renamed Luminex Molecular Diagnostics.
As a result of the updated valuation, Luminex lowered its third-quarter net loss to $1.9 million from the previously reported $3.3 million.
Luminex has recorded $30.8 million of goodwill related to the acquisition and has increased the goodwill balance to $39.6 million with $26.2 million being allocated to “identified acquired intangible assets.” Of that $26.2 million, $7.4 million represents in-process research and development, said Luminex.
Overall, the modifications consist of $8.8 million being allocated from intangible assets to goodwill, and $1.1 million being allocated from in-process research and development to goodwill. Luminex said these changes enabled it to recapture $600,000 during the three-month period ended Sept. 30.
The intangible assets will contribute $566,000 in amortization expense to each of the next three quarters and then decrease to roughly $500,000 per quarter for an unspecified period thereafter.

Sequenom Named to Nasdaq Biotech Index
Following its semi-annual re-ranking, the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index has added Sequenom to the firms included in the Index.
Sequenom’s shares will start trading as part of the Index on Monday, Nov. 19.
The firm’s shares have more than doubled since mid-September, following its announcement that it had licensed technology from Harvard University that it will use to develop a nanopore-based sequencing platform that will be faster and cheaper than currently available technologies. Sequenom’s stock closed at $9.93 in Tuesday trade on the Nasdaq.
Sequenom was one of eight new firms added to the Biotech Index, but it was the only non-therapeutics company added. The other seven firms are Beijing Med-Pharm, Cadence Pharmaceuticals, Eurand, Halozyme Therapeutics, Obagi Medical Products, Orexigen Therapeutics, and Theravance.
The seven firms dropped from the Biotech Index as a result of the re-ranking include Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Genta, Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals, NeoPharm, Northfield Labs, Oscient Pharmaceuticals, and Pharmacyclics.
Index criteria include listing on the Nasdaq Global Market or Nasdaq Global Select Market, and meeting minimum requirements for market value, average daily share volume, and seasoning as a public company.

PerkinElmer Completes ViaCell Acquisition
PerkinElmer said last week that it has completed its successful tender offer to acquire ViaCell by buying more than 90 percent of the company's outstanding common stock.
PerkinElmer said it purchased approximately 37.9 million ViaCell shares through the tender offer, which expired Thursday night. PerkinElmer paid $7.25 a share for a total of more than $274 million. 
The company said it plans to buy ViaCell’s remaining shares through a short-form merger under Delaware law for the same price, at which time ViaCell will become a wholly owned PerkinElmer subsidiary.
When the deal is closed, PerkinElmer plans to sell ViaCell's therapeutics business.

Affymetrix Files to Sell $250M of Senior Convertible Notes
Affymetrix this week said that it has filed a shelf registration with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to offer $250 million of unsecured senior convertible notes due 2038.
Affy said that it expects to grant the offering’s underwriter an over-allotment option to purchase up to $37.5 million aggregate principal amount of additional notes.
The firm intends to use proceeds for working capital and general corporate purposes, which could include capital expenditures and potential acquisitions of business, products, or technologies. Affy also said that it may use the funds to repurchase or redeem all or a portion of its .75 percent senior convertible notes due 2033.
JP Morgan Securities is the sole book-running manager of the offering.

Thermo Fisher to Use Phytronix Technology for LC/MS Analyses
Thermo Fisher Scientific said this week that it has signed an agreement to use Phytronix’s Laser Diode Thermal Desorption technology with its TSQ Quantum liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry product portfolio.
According to Thermo Fisher, the LDTD technology increases the speed of analysis of compounds by 20 to 100 times compared to established techniques based on LC/MS. Applications for the technology, when paired with the TSQ Quantum, include analysis of sulfonamide residues in milk, analysis of explosives, analysis of fatty acids in both positive and negative ion mode, and environmental testing.
The LDTD technology can also perform pharmacokinetic studies in less than 10 minutes, Thermo Fisher said.
Financial and other terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

Beckman Coulter’s Agencourt to Provide Sequencing Services for NCI
Agencourt Bioscience will provide genomic sequencing services to the National Cancer Institute under a one-year agreement with an option to renew for a second year, the company said this week.
Under the contract, Agencourt, a subsidiary of Beckman Coulter, will perform genomic sequencing on normal and cancer tissue samples and on genes and targeted regions for NCI and for its collaborators.
These NCI collaborators “may request the sequencing of specific genes at any time,” Agencourt said.
Collaborators will submit sequence trace data to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and base calls will be placed in a database managed by the NCI, Agencourt said.
The company plans to develop a website that will be accessible to project collaborators and allow them to query the NCBI Trace database for additional metadata and relate it to other experimental results and clinical data.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

Invitrogen Licenses RNAi Technology to RXi Pharmaceuticals
Invitrogen has licensed exclusive rights for its second-generation RNA interference technology to CytRx subsidiary RXi Pharmaceuticals for designated target genes in all human therapeutic categories.
The license includes patent applications covering Invitrogen’s Stealth RNAi synthetic duplexes and other technologies related to enhanced configurations of chemically modified double-stranded RNA, the firms said in a joint statement this week.
Invitrogen’s Stealth RNAi synthetic duplexes are used for RNAi research across both in vitro and in vivo applications, Amy Butler, Invitrogen vice president of gene-expression profiling, said in a statement.
She said the company sees the use of the technology in therapeutics as “a natural next step in Invitrogen’s efforts to be at the cutting edge of in vivo gene regulation.”
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Nanogen to Close Microarray Business, Axe 20 Percent of Staff
Nanogen plans to shut down its microarray business and will realign its strategy behind its real-time PCR and point-of-care testing businesses, the company said this week.
The company had hired investment banking firm Credit Suisse to help it explore strategic options for the array business that could have included selling the segment, finding a partner, or simply closing down operations, Nanogen said in September.
After markets closed on Monday the company said that it had opted to shut down those operations and lay off around 20 percent of its staff.
“Our analysis of alternatives for the array business has not resulted in any financially meaningful opportunities” said David Ludvigson, Nanogen’s president and COO.
Ludvigson projected that shedding the microarray business from its books would lower its operating expenses by around $15 million per year.
Earlier on Monday, Nanogen had said in its earnings report that its 11 percent revenue jump in the third quarter was offset by expenses and restructuring costs, although it projected annual growth of 25 percent in fiscal 2008 over the current year.
“The future of our company and our mission to be a leading diagnostics company has not changed with this decision,” said Nanogen CEO Howard Birndorf.
Nanogen expects to take on a fourth-quarter charge of around $2.5 million from employee severance costs related to the closure of the microarray business.

Ventana Opens Books to Roche, But Calls Standing Offer ‘Grossly Inadequate’
Ventana Medical Systems has offered Roche a glimpse into its financial health as it hopes to convince the Swiss drugs and diagnostics giant that it is worth more on than the $3 billion dollars Roche continues to offer for the firm.
Tucson, Ariz.-based Ventana, which has snubbed Roche’s unsolicited bid to acquire it at least four times, said it hopes the due diligence and related talks will “allow Roche to recognize the significant additional value inherent in Ventana's business.”
The step will give Roche access to information about Ventana’s business prospects and the value of its companion diagnostics.
Roche has extended at least four times its original offer to buy the diagnostics company for $75 a share, or around $3 billion dollars. Ventana has insisted that the offer, made in June, is too small. This week, it said the due-diligence agreement will make it evident that the standing offer is “grossly inadequate.”
Ventana’s shares were trading at $88.50 on Wednesday morning.
Ventana added that it makes no assurances that this agreement allowing due diligence will lead to a merger, and reiterated that its board believes the current offer price “does not appropriately compensate Ventana’s stockholders for the inherent value of the company or its synergistic value to Roche.”

Nanosphere Investors Exercise Over-Allotment Option
Nanosphere last week said that it had completed its initial public offering of 7 million shares, and that its underwriters have exercised their full over-allotment option to buy an additional 1.05 million shares at $14 apiece, bringing gross proceeds to $112.7.
The company, which trades under the ticker symbol NSPH, in August said it generated $1.1 million in revenues last year and $1.9 million in revenues in 2005, and held $34.5 million in cash and cash equivalents as of March 31.

The molecular diagnostics company’s sole book-runner was Credit Suisse Securities. Co-managing the IPO were Piper Jaffray & Co., Leerink Swan, and Allen & Company.

The Scan

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

TB Resistance Insights Gleaned From Genome Sequence, Antimicrobial Response Assays

Researchers in PLOS Biology explore M. tuberculosis resistance with a combination of sequencing and assays looking at the minimum inhibitory concentrations of 13 drugs.

Mendelian Disease Genes Prioritized Using Tissue-Specific Expression Clues

Mendelian gene candidates could be flagged for further functional analyses based on tissue-specific transcriptome and proteome profiles, a new Journal of Human Genetics paper says.

Single-Cell Sequencing Points to Embryo Mosaicism

Mosaicism may affect preimplantation genetic tests for aneuploidy, a single-cell sequencing-based analysis of almost three dozen embryos in PLOS Genetics finds.