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Illumina, Affymetrix, Shimadzu, Waters, Luminex, Tm Bioscience, Thermo Electron, Helicos Biosciences, Roche Diagnostics, NorDiag

Illumina Named Senior Party in Patent Interference Case with Affymetrix
 
The US Patent and Trademark Office has decided that a patent tied to a technology sold by Affymetrix interferes with an Illumina patent application because Illumina’s application was filed ahead of Affy’s, Illumina said last week.
 
The decision came a week before Affymetrix and Illumina were scheduled to appear in court as part of a July 2004 suit launched by Affy that claims Illumina infringes five patented DNA microarray and related technologies.
 
According to Illumina, the interference relates to Affymetrix’s molecular inversion probe genotyping technology, which is protected by US Patent No. 6,858,412, “Direct multiplex characterization of genomic DNA.“
 
The patent was filed in 2001 by Stanford University inventors and later used by ParAllele BioScience to protect its flagship molecular inversion probe technology.
 
Affymetrix acquired the technology through its purchase of ParAllele BioScience in October 2005, and Illumina asked the USPTO the very same day to investigate the IP for a possible interference.
 
According to the patent’s abstract, it claims “methods of multiplexing nucleic acid reactions, including amplification, detection and genotyping” that “rely on the use of pre-circle probes that are circularized in the presence of the corresponding target nucleic acids, cleaved, and then amplified.”
 
Illumina last week said the USPTO named it the senior party because its “original patent filing predates that of the ‘412 patent.”
 
Illumina’s senior party designation could put Affymetrix at a big disadvantage. According to a patent attorney with experience in the interference review process, statistics show that companies named a junior party have a miniscule chance of winning the US patent office’s designation as original inventor.
 

 
Shimadzu, Waters Enter Liquid Chromatography Alliance
 
Shimadzu and Waters plan to co-develop software that will allow Waters’ Empower chromatography software to control Shimadzu’s Prominence liquid chromatographer.
 
Shimadzu said last week that the collaboration is a response to the need of pharmaceutical clients to be able to integrate data from multiple chromatographs from various makers on a single data system.
 
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
 

 
Luminex Closes Acquisition of Tm Bioscience
 
Luminex last week said it has closed its acquisition of Tm Bioscience after receiving the green light from a Canadian court on Wednesday.
 
Under the terms of the deal, disclosed last December, Luminex will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Tm. Tm shareholders will receive .6 shares of Luminex common stock for each Tm share, leaving Tm holders with roughly 9 percent of Luminex’s stock.
 
Luminex CEO and President Patrick Balthrop said the company plans to market Tm’s molecular detection chemistries, assay kits, and reagents through its distribution partners.
 

 
Waters, Thermo Announce Stock Buybacks
 
Waters last week said that it will buy back $500 million worth of its common stock under a plan authorized by the company’s board of directors in November 2006.
 
The company said the shares will be bought in open market over the next two years.
 
Thermo Electron also said last week that it will buy back $300 million shares of its common stock either in the open market or through negotiated deals through Feb. 28.
 

 
Helicos Biosciences Files for IPO
 
Helicos Biosciences last week filed documents with US regulators to issue an initial public offering.
 
The filing would make Helicos the only publicly traded pure-play next-generation sequencing company. Solexa, which was a stand-alone sequencing shop, was acquired by Illumina earlier this year.
 
454 Life Sciences, another rival, is part of publicly traded drug maker CuraGen.
Last July, CuraGen said it had hired investment bank Goldman Sachs “to examine strategic options" for its investment in 454.
 
The number of shares to be sold in Helicos’ proposed offering and the offering price have not yet been determined. However, according to Marketwatch, Helicos filed to raise up to $100 million.
 
The registration statement filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission has not yet become effective, Helicos said in a statement.
 
UBS Investment Bank will be acting as the sole book-running manager for the offering. J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. is acting as a joint lead manager, with Leerink Swann & Company and Pacific Growth Equities acting as co-managers.
 
Helicos, based in Cambridge, Mass., plans to trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol “HLCS.”
 

 
FDA to Review Two Roche Genotyping Tests for HPV
 
Roche Diagnostics this week said that the US Food and Drug Administration will review for clearance a pair of its genotyping-based tests that detect and strain-type human papillomavirus.
 
According to Roche, the first test, called Amplicor HPV, will detect 13 high-risk HPV genotypes from clinical samples, while the other test, the Linear Array, will identify which of those 13 types are in a particular sample.
 
Daniel O’Day, head of Roche Molecular Diagnostics, said HPV tests could help doctors “identify and manage persistent, high-risk HPV infections before they progress to more serious forms of the disease.”
 
Recent studies have shown that women infected with HPV are at increased risk for developing cervical cancer.
 

 
NorDiag Buys DNA Sample Prep Firm for $13.3M
 
Norwegian cancer diagnostics company NorDiag has signed a deal to buy DNA sample prep company Genpoint, also based in Norway, in a stock deal worth NOK 83.3 million ($13.3 million), NorDiag said last week.
 
NorDiag said the acquisition will expand its cancer and infectious diagnostics line and will help speed its colorectal cancer test to the market.
 
Under the agreement, NorDiag will exchange as much as 9.8 million of its own shares to acquire 90.1 percent of Genpoint's outstanding shares. Proceeds from the placement will fund new product roll-out and company growth, NorDiag said.
 
The company also plans to conduct a rights issue of shares for as much as NOK 10 million after the deal closes.
 
NorDiag's board will meet to approve the transaction on March 16. It also plans to name Jan Olav Steensland, J. Frode Vaksvik, and Mattias Uhlen as new board members.
 
Last year, Genpoint worked with NorDiag to help automate and improve NorDiag's DNA isolation capability.

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.