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Aviva Secures $4M to Upgrade Chip Service

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Aviva Systems Biology, a privately held San Diego company, has raised $4 million to upgrade its flagship chromatin immunoprecipitation-on-chip service offering, move to a larger facility, and lay the groundwork for a major staff expansion this year.

Jeff Falk, director of technology and business applications at Aviva, says that the new funding round, secured from existing investors, closed in December. He declined to name the investors.

“We are currently undergoing a major expansion in personnel to accommodate the increased demand for [ChIP-on-chip] services, boost manufacturing capabilities, and significantly expand [our] active research and development program,” Falk says. 

He says the new funding will also support Aviva’s recent move to an 11,000-square-foot facility in San Diego that will “significantly enhance” its ability to expand its operations and staff. 

Falk declined to discuss Aviva’s current size or how many employees it plans to add. However, he says that the new hires will mostly be in R&D to help develop new applications such as locus-based tiling arrays and DNA methylation analysis. Personnel will also be added in sales and marketing to augment Aviva’s global distribution network and sales team.

A key component of Aviva’s strategy for growth is the expansion of its ChIP-on-chip services offering, which the company launched last August. Originally called ChIP-Guided Ligation and Selection (GLAS), the service used an internally developed microarray to detect promoters and enhancers that interact with proteins or carry modifications that affect gene expression. The technology was licensed from the University of San Diego in 2004, says Falk.

He says that Aviva has now renamed its service offering ChIP-DNA Selection and Ligation (DSL). As with ChIP-GLAS, ChIP-DSL also relies on Aviva’s main platform, an array containing 40-mer probes of 20,000 human promoters located in regions where only the DNA sequence of interest is amplified.

- Justin Petrone

Short Reads

The Berlin-based German Resource Center for Genome Research has expanded an agreement with NimbleGen to cover Affymetrix’s microarray patents in Germany and Austria. In October, Affymetrix agreed to grant NimbleGen non-exclusive, worldwide rights for its nucleic acid microarrays.

Illumina closed its $600 million acquisition of Solexa in late January. Through the merger, Illumina has increased the size of its board from eight to 10 members with the addition of two former Solexa directors, Blaine Bowman and Roy Whitefield.

The Tokyo-based Oji Paper Company has licensed Rosetta Biosoftware’s Resolver gene expression platform. Oji intends to use the software to characterize gene expression profiles of wood-forming tissues in its forestry research facility.

A California law firm has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine two microarray patents held by Oxford Gene Technology. The requests, filed on behalf of a client who wishes to remain anonymous, argue that several claims in each patent are covered by prior art.

Illumina plans to sell $325 million in convertible senior notes to pay for corporate expenses. It will use approximately $200 million of the proceeds to buy shares of its common stock in a private transaction, and some of the rest will go to pay the cost of the convertible transactions.

Patents

US Patent 7,166,431. Combinatorial decoding of random nucleic acid arrays. Inventors: Mark Chee and David Walt. Assignee: Illumina. Issued: January 23, 2007.

The patent covers “methods and compositions for combinatorially decoding arrays.” The invention claims a number of nucleic acids wherein each is represented by an invariant sequence, a variable sequence, and a label. The patent describes a method for decoding an array composition.

US Patent 7,166,202. Matrixes, arrays, systems, and methods. Inventors: Shmuel Bukshpan and Gleb Zilberstein. Assignee: Protein Forest. Issued: January 23, 2007.

The abstract for this patent describes “matrixes, arrays, systems, and methods for analyzing biomolecules by their isoelectric point.” The assortment is claimed as useful for “causing a biomolecule under the influence of an electrical field to accumulate into an IEF buffer” with the same pH value as the isoelectric point of the biomolecule. The invention is intended for diagnostic and research purposes.

Data Point

16,500

The number of bases of the human mitochondrial genome Affy’s MitoChip interrogates with three PCR reactions.

 

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