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Bio-Rad, Molecular Devices, OGT, Invitrogen, Waters, VWR International, Stratagene, Beckman Coulter, Solexa, Illumina, Affymetrix

Bio-Rad Official Says Thermal Cycler Sales ‘Doing Fine’;
Company Considers Acquisition Opportunities
 
Bio-Rad CFO Christine Tsingos said sales of thermal cyclers from its MJ Research subsidiary were “doing fine” since returning to the market in February.
 
Meanwhile, Bio-Rad President and CEO Norman Schwartz said in a response to a question during the firm’s breakout session that it wouldn’t stay away from a large transformative acquisition if the opportunity was present. However, he said, “It’s more likely that we’d end up with a $100 million or $200 million” deal.
 
Tsingos told BioCommerce Week on the sidelines of the UBS Global Life Sciences Conferences held in New York this week that “it’s hard to say” if MJ lost any market share during the period of time an injunction locked it out of the market.
 
In February, Applera and Roche settled a long-standing patent infringement suit against Bio-Rad Laboratories and its MJ Research unit, enabling MJ to resume selling its thermal cyclers products in the US (see BioCommerce Week 2/15/2006). The settlement came after the court had already awarded Applera and Roche over $35 million in damages in the case and four months after an injunction prevented MJ from selling its thermal cyclers.
 
“Eppendorf got very aggressive in their marketing [of thermal cyclers during the injunction], and quite frankly, we would have done the same thing,” Tsingos said. She said sales were “doing fine” since February and that MJ’s customers are a “loyal bunch.”
 

 
Molecular Devices Cuts Q3 Guidance on Soft Sales
 
Soft sales during the third quarter have forced Molecular Devices to cut its financial guidance for the period by between 8 percent and 12 percent, the company said this week.
 
Molecular Devices said it now expects revenue for the three months ended Sept. 30 to be between $44 million and $46 million. In July the company said it expected to generate between $48 million and $52 million in the period.
 
Third-quarter 2005 revenues were $45.2 million.
 
Molecular Devices in July also cut its full-year 2006 guidance to between $190 million and $198 million from between $198 million and $206 million.
 

 
OGT Licenses Microarray IP to Invitrogen
 
Oxford Gene Technology has licensed its oligonucleotide microarray patents to Invitrogen, OGT said this week.
 
With the license, Invitrogen can offer DNA related microarray services to customers worldwide from its US operations.
 
The license will remain valid for the patents’ lifetime.
 
Financial details were not disclosed.
 
A few months ago, Invitrogen licensed non-exclusive, worldwide rights to a number of Affymetrix’s microarray patents (see BioCommerce Week 6/21/2006).
 
"We have the availability to develop array products and, at the present time, the arrays that we are focusing on developing are in the area of epigenetics," Amy Butler, vice president of gene expression profiling for Invitrogen, told BioCommerce Week at the time. "We have plans to develop additional arrays in the [non-coding RNA] field in the not-too-distant future."
 

 
Waters to Outfit Imperial College London Lab
 
Waters this week said that it will outfit the Waters Laboratory of Molecular Spectroscopy at Imperial College London lab with an Acquity UPLC system, a Q-Tof Premier mass spec, and a GCT Premier mass spec.
 
The announcement was made as the university unveiled a new NMR facility incorporating the technologies.
 
Waters’ “investment in the new mass spectrometry laboratory — together with our new NMR facility — means that the College has a uniquely powerful new facility for molecular structure elucidation, which will enable researchers here in the future to develop new disease diagnostics based on small molecule biomarkers and to understand molecular mechanisms of disease,” Jeremy Nicholson, head of Imperial’s department of biomolecular medicine, said in a statement.
 

 
VWR to Distribute Stratagene Products in Canada
 
Stratagene this week said that VWR International will distribute its “full line” of research products in Canada beginning in October.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, Stratagene and VWR will service Canadian customers in an “integrated manner.” For example, Stratagene will continue to support Canadian customers with direct sales representation and field applications support in the country and provide technical support and instrument service from its US offices.
 
In addition, VWR will inventory Stratagene products in warehouses located in Edmonton and Mississauga.
 
Financial details were not disclosed.
 

 
Beckman Coulter to Distribute Aurora’s Microplates
 
Aurora Biotechnologies last week said that Beckman Coulter has become a global distributor of Aurora’s ChemLib line of microplates.

In a statement, Beckman said that Aurora’s ChemLib microplates, when packaged with Beckman’s liquid-handling and detection instrumentation technologies, “allow us to offer our customers a total miniaturization solution."

 
Financial or geographical terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
 

 
Solexa Secures $75M Equity Financing Commitment
 
Solexa has secured a committment to sell $75 million in common stock from Azimuth Opportunity, the company said last week.
 
Solexa said it plans to use the cash to develop and commercialize its Genome Analysis System, for working capital, and for other general corporate purposes.
 
The commitment is for two years. During the term, Solexa may sell registered shares of its common stock to Azimuth at a small discount to the market price. The timing and amount of sales will be at Solexa’s discretion, the company said.
 
Solexa shipped its first 1G Genome Analyzers to two early-access customers in late June and has said in the past that it wants to launch the instrument widely by the end of this year.
 

 
Illumina to Grow Sales Staff by At Least Half in ’06; Affy Suit Could Go to Court in Early March
 
Illumina’s global sales staff will increase by at least half this year as the company sets to roll out its BeadXpress molecular diagnostic platform, a company official said this week.
 
CEO Jay Flatley, speaking to investors at the UBS Global Life Sciences Conference in New York, said Illumina’s sales staff will grow by between 50 percent and 60 percent this year over last.
 
Answering a question during a break-out session following his presentation, Flatley also said that Affymetrix’s patent-infringement suit against Illumina will likely begin during the second week of March 2007, though he said that has not been confirmed yet.
 
Affymetrix sued Illumina in July 2004 for allegedly infringing six patents in the DNA microarray field and related technology. Affy dropped one of the patents from the suit in March. A Markman hearing in the case was held in April.
 
At the conference, Flatley reiterated that the company plans to launch the BeadXpress technology by the end of the year. He said the platform, which will be able to run 100 samples per hour, will have applications in genotyping, gene expression research, and protein-binding studies. Flatley said these applications are still in development.
 
Flatley said the system will begin field testing “soon” and that the company will begin selling it in 2007 to the research market. In May Flatley said the goal is to get the system cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration roughly by the end of 2006, which will enable Illumina to begin selling it to CLIA labs.
 
He had also said the company may build and combine its own sales staff to sell diagnostic products while partnering with others. "It's likely to be a hybrid model," he said. "We're in the process of making some final evaluations."
 

 
Second Suit Filed Against Affymetrix Officials Alleging Backdated Options;
Shuttering of Massachusetts Plant to Cost $15M-$19M
 
A second shareholder has filed suit against Affymetrix officials for improperly backdating stock option grants, BioCommerce Week sister publication GenomeWeb News has learned.
 
The suit, filed Sept. 13 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, follows a similar but separate suit filed in the same court on Aug. 30, and accuses 12 Affy officials of diverting “hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate assets to themselves via the manipulation of grant dates associated with hundreds of thousands of stock options granted to Affymetrix insiders.”
 
The suit, filed derivatively by Affymetrix shareholder Samuel Powers, alleges that the backdated option grants enabled the defendants to sell more than $115.3 million worth of Affymetrix stock “at artificially inflated prices” between 1997 and 2006.
 
An attorney associated with the first shareholder suit confirmed today that the two complaints are separate.
 
Affymetrix disclosed in early August that it had uncovered “certain documentation lapses” in its stock-option granting practices and would need to restate its financial results dating back to 1997.
 
The company said that it had completed its financial restatement on Aug. 30.
 
Separately, Affymetrix's decision to shutter its Bedford, Mass., plant will cost it between $15 million and $19 million, the company said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week.
 
The company decided to shut its instrument manufacturing and development facility as part of a restructuring plan to cut costs. The facility will be consolidated with two existing plants in California.
 
Employee severance and relocation benefits are expected to cost between $8 million and $10 million. Vacating the facility, which was under lease, will cost between $5 million and $7 million.
 
Approximately $2 million will be spent on other costs, including fixed-asset write downs and equipment and inventory relocation costs.
 
These restructuring expenses will be reflected in the third quarter of 2006 and continue through the third quarter 2007.
 
Cash outlays incurred in connection with these restructuring activities are estimated to be in the range of $14 million to $18 million.
 
Affymetrix expects to complete the closure by third quarter of 2007.
 
As part of the shutdown, approximately 80 positions will be eliminated or transfered beginning in the fourth quarter this year and continuing into the first half of 2007, yesterday's filing reiterated.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.