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Applied Biosystems and Qiagen, Lehman Brothers and Applied Biosystems, Agilent and NCI, Waters, NSF and USDA, PerkinElmer, and 454 Life Sciences and Washington University

Applied Biosystems, Qiagen Ink PCR Licensing Deal

Applied Biosystems has granted a license to Qiagen under an expanded PCR license program that Applied Biosystems launched in June, the companies announced this week.

ABI's expanded program includes patents for real-time PCR and other PCR-related technologies not licensed under its previous PCR licensing program. Specifically, the program includes a license to foundational patents, the TaqMan assay, and the Dye-Intercalation assay method.

Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Invitrogen was the first company to take a license under the expanded program (see BioCommerce Week 7/7/2005).

ABI had expanded its PCR licensing agreement with Roche in May (see BioCommerce Week 5/12/2005), following the settlement of long-standing litigation between the firms, and the expiration of several of Roche's core PCR patents in March. Under the expanded agreement, ABI is the sole licensor of Roche patents covering reagents and methods for practicing PCR and real-time PCR in the life science research and applied fields.

Lehman Brothers Cuts ABI Stock to 'Equal-Weight'

Investment bank Lehman Brothers today cut Applied Biosystems' stock rating to "equal-weight" from "overweight."

Though it said it continues to believe the company can meet revenue and earnings targets, the recent increase in the share price no longer warrants an overweight rating, Lehman Brothers said.

The broker said the recent run-up in the share price may be related to the company's stock buyback program.

Agilent Expands NCI's Access to Microarray Technology; Sets Up Second R&D Center in India

Agilent Technologies has expanded the National Cancer Institute's access to its microarray technology program, the company said last week.

Under the program, NCI extramural researchers can obtain Agilent's microarray technology — including reagents, catalogs and custom microarrays, instrumentation, and software — for comparative genomic hybridization, location analysis, and gene expression.

The NCI funds approximately 4,500 research grants each year.

Researchers realize gene-expression data alone is not enough in cancer research, and that complementary microarray applications are necessary, the company said.

Agilent said it will offer researchers promotional pricing.

The firm also will set up a second research and development center in Bangalore, India, a company official said last week. Agilent currently has an R&D center in Gurgaon, in northern India. The new center will have an initial staff of 200 and will focus primarily on life science research.

Waters Inks $250M Term Loan Facility

Waters has secured a term loan facility of $250 million through a new credit agreement reached with certain financial institutions and JPMorgan Chase Bank, as administrative agent.

According to an 8-K filing with US Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Waters borrowed $250 million under the loan facility on Nov. 28, 2005, and may request that the facility be increased up to an additional $100 million.

The loan facility matures on Nov. 28, 2010, and requires no scheduled repayments before that date, though Waters may prepay without penalty.

The firm also has $490 million outstanding from an existing $800 million revolving credit and loan facility.

NSF, USDA Earmark $15M for Microbial Sequencing in 2006

The National Science Foundation and the US Department of Agriculture have allocated nearly $15 million for the 2006 Microbial Genome Sequencing Program, according to a program solicitation on the NSF web site.

NSF said it expects to award between 20 and 30 standard or continuing grants under the program, with most awards ranging between $100,000 and $2.5 million, for periods up to three years.

The program will consider proposals that involve high-throughput sequencing of the genomes of microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, archaea, fungi, oomycetes, protists, and agriculturally important nematodes.

The proposals should also conssider developing and implementing strategies, tools, and technologies to make currently available genome sequences "more valuable to the user community," NSF said.

Of the $15 million allocated, $10 million is funded by the NSF and $5 million by the USDA.

The proposal deadline is March 2, 2006.

PerkinElmer Completes Sale of Aerospace Unit

PerkinElmer has completed the sale of its aerospace unit to Eaton Corp. for roughly $333 million — $326 million in cash and $7 million of assumed obligations under capital leases. The firm expects net cash proceeds of $240 million from the sale of that unit, which would have brought in revenue of $155 million to $160 million this year.

PerkinElmer announced in October that it would sell the aerospace unit and semiconductor and fluid-testing businesses in an effort to focus on the health sciences market (see BioCommerce Week 10/13/2005).

The divestitures of the businesses also will enable the company to repay its debt, which currently stands at $270 million and has been the primary reason PerkinElmer has been relatively quiet on the acquisition front for the past few years.

454, Washington U. Pen Sequencing, Gene-Expression Alliance

454 Life Sciences and the Genome Sequencing Center at the Washington University School of Medicine plan to sequence disease-causing pathogens and study expression profiles of genes in mammalian cells and tissues, the partners said this week.

The first part of the plan calls for GSC and 454 scientists to sequence and analyze the genomes of disease-causing pathogens using 454's Genome Sequencer 20 System. During the second part of the plan, scientists from the two organizations will sequence RNA to assess the expression profiles of genes in mammalian cells and tissues.

Christopher McLeod, 454's president and CEO, noted that the cooperation "could be expanded to incorporate additional research topics in the future."

Financial details were not discussed.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.