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Invitrogen, BioReliance, Viropro, Beckman, Biosite, Stratagene, Agilent, Affymetrix, NuGen, Waters, EPA, Sigma-Aldrich, Thermo Fisher, VWR, Cepheid, Blue Stream, Cogenics, Keygene, Roche, Illumina

Invitrogen Closes Sale of BioReliance, Inks R&D Alliance with Viropro
 
Invitrogen has closed the $210 million sale of its BioReliance unit to Avista Capital Partners as part of its plans to better organize some of its acquisitions and streamline its focus, the company said last week.
 
Two months ago, Invitrogen agreed to sell the biological services unit to Avista in an effort to focus on its platform of scientific technologies.
 
The move followed a thorough portfolio review, after which the company decided to unload the services business to concentrate on its tools and technologies.
 
The decision to sell BioReliance came at the same time Invitrogen posted a 300 percent decline in 2006 fourth-quarter net income compared with the same period in 2005.
 
Avista named Tim Derrington, who was BioReliance’s general manager under Invitrogen, to take over as CEO of the Rockville, Md.-based biological services company.
 
In a separate announcement last week, Invitrogen and Viropro said that they have signed an R&D agreement in which Invitrogen will test protein-production techniques and cell-development technology developed by Viropro.
 
Viropro, based in Montreal, said the deal allows the company the opportunity to out-license the combined technology and make intellectual property deals with biotech companies looking to integrate the IP into their own research and production processes.
 

 
Beckman Bid to Buy Biosite Clears Regulatory Hurdle;
Inverness Provides Financing Commitment Letters
 
Beckman Coulter this week said that the federally mandated waiting period for its proposed acquisition of Biosite has expired without a request by the US Federal Trade Commission for additional information.
 
The Hart-Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvement Act generally requires a 30-day waiting period on proposed mergers of a certain value while the FTC and the Department of Justice review the proposal. Either body may request an extension of the waiting period to make inquiries into a proposed deal.
 
Beckman last month said that it planned to buy Biosite for $80 a share, or around $1.6 billion. Days later, Inverness Medical Innovations made an unsolicited bid to pay $90 a share for the San Diego-based diagnostics company.  
 
Biosite last week said it intends to meet with Inverness to consider its offer. Beckman has said its original offer stands, and it has not hinted that it will increase its offer or engage in a bidding war with Inverness.
 
Meanwhile, Biosite said this week that Inverness Medical Innovations has given the company a set of revised commitment letters from Inverness' “proposed financing sources” that will likely pay for its unsolicited bid to acquire Biosite for $90 a share.
 
Biosite said it will file these revisions with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, but those changes are not yet available on the SEC’s website.
 
Biosite’s board has not withdrawn or changed its recommendations concerning its agreement to be acquired by Beckman Coulter for $85 a share.
 

 
Stratagene Faces Shareholder Suit over Sale to Agilent
 
An individual claiming to be a shareholder in Stratagene filed a lawsuit last week against the firm and its board of directors claiming that Stratagene’s proposed acquisition by Agilent “was the result of an unfair process by which the defendants violated applicable law by breaching the fiduciary duties of loyalty, due care, candor, independence, good faith, and fair dealing.”
 
Stratagene reported the suit in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week.
 
According to the firm, the plaintiff is seeking certification of the suit as a class action. He also has asked the court to declare the merger agreement “unlawful and unenforceable” due to a breach in fiduciary duties by Stratagene’s board.
 
Stratagene said it “believes the claims asserted in the complaint are without merit and [it] intends to vigorously defend against this action.”
 

 
Affymetrix to Support Microarray-Related Cancer Research
In Europe; Signs Co-Marketing Deal with NuGen
 
Affymetrix is launching a program to fund microarray-related cancer research at European research centers, the company said this week.
 
Under the Collaborations in Cancer Research Program, Affymetrix said it will financially support selected research projects that use a variety of microarray-based applications and that are aimed at developing a new understanding of 10 types of cancer.
 
The research is being performed at a number of academic and state-run research facilities throughout Europe.
 
The company said these programs use microarray applications, including copy number analysis, gene expression, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and splicing pattern analysis.
 
Affy also said it will help researchers obtain tools and training, and said it will “provide forums where investigators can exchange knowledge and share best practices.”
 
Researchers in the programs are studying leukemia and cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, thyroid, skin, and other organs.
 
Affy said results of these studies will be presented at a meeting it will sponsor later this year. The company also plans to expand the program later this year to include research facilities in Japan and North America.
 
The company did not say how much financial support it will offer these programs.
 
In a separate announcement, Affymetrix said that it and NuGen Technologies will co-market a NuGen product that helps Affy GeneChip customers analyze formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue samples.
 
Affy said NuGen’s WT-Ovation technology will work with standard Affy 3-prime arrays and will allow researchers to analyze gene expression on small and degraded tissue samples.
 
The company said the technology needs 50 nanograms of RNA and can generate “several” micrograms of cDNA in six hours.
 
Affymetrix said the Ovation/GeneChip offering is currently available for sample processing jobs through Expression Analysis, a NuGen and Affymetrix service provider.
 
The WT-Ovation system will be available for sale this week, Affymetrix said.
 

 
Waters, EPA to Collaborate on PFC-Detection Technologies
 
Waters will use its liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry instruments to help the US Environmental Protection Agency develop ways to detect perfluorinated compounds in soil and water, the company said this week.
 
The three-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement calls for the partners to create methods for collecting and storing samples, and for extracting, cleaning, and analyzing trace-level PFCs.
 
Waters will use its LC and MS instruments to measure minute concentrations of PFCs
 
The agreement also will seek to develop methods for understanding how PFCs are distributed and how humans come in contact with them.
 
Andy Lindstrom, a scientist at the EPA’s National Exposure Research Laboratory, said this agreement “is an important opportunity for the EPA to evaluate state-of-the-art instrumentation to help answer the most important questions related to human exposures to the PFCs.
 
Waters has an ongoing agreement with the EPA, the company said, which aims to screen for 280 harmful contaminants in drinking water to provide the EPA with screening tools and water analysis technology, the company said. 
 

 
Sigma-Aldrich Uploads Small Molecules to PubChem
 
Sigma-Aldrich has uploaded more than 1,100 bioactive small molecules to the National Institutes of Health’s PubChem database, the company said last week.
 
PubChem, a reference database of chemical structures and biological assay data, is a component of the NIH’s Molecular Libraries Roadmap Initiative, which aims to support researchers studying the genetics of disease.
 
Sigma-Aldrich said these small molecules come from its Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds, which is a collection of drugs and bioactive small molecules the company offers.
 

 
Thermo Fisher to Open Informatics Sales Center in Colombia
 
Thermo Fisher Scientific said this week that it will expand its presence in South America by opening a sales center for its informatics products in Colombia.
 
Thermo said the Colombian company IST Internacional will support sales in the country and will emphasize Thermo’s LIMS and chromatography data systems.
 
The sales staff will focus on Colombian industries including petrochemicals, chemicals, mining, environmental, and water treatment, among others.
 
IST General Manager Fabian Nino said Thermo “shares [IST’s] vision for increased investment in Colombia in terms of sales, technical support services, and new product development to adapt to the local needs.”
 
Thermo said it now has operations in Chile, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, and partnerships in Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Colombia.
 

 
VWR to Distribute Cepheid’s SmartCycler
 
Cepheid said this week that VWR International will distribute its PCR-based detection technology in the US under a non-exclusive agreement.
 
Cepheid said the deal could expand its reach to more government, academic and biotechnology laboratories using PCR technology.
 
VWR will distribute Cepheid’s SmartCycler, which is used for genetic analysis and detection, and its SmartMix PCR reagent kit.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.
 

 
FDA Clears Cepheid’s Staph Test
 
The US Food and Drug Administration has cleared a Cepheid test designed to swiftly detect nosocomial and antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus, the company said this week.
 
Cepheid said its Xpert MRSA test, which operates on the company’s GeneXpert system, identifies methicillin-resistant S. aureus in “just over one hour,” and can be administered 24 hours a day without the need to submit samples to a lab. 
 
Cepheid said MRSA infections are the “leading cause” of nosocomial, or hospital-acquired infections, and that they kill as many as 100,000 patients a year in the US.
 
The company said it is currently “engaged with a broad cross-section of health care organizations” about plans to try using MRSA surveillance systems. These organizations are considering testing only “high risk” cases, or testing “all patient admissions,” the company added.
 
Last month, the FDA cleared the company’s PCR-based Xpert EV meningitis test.
 

 
Blue Stream Buys Agilent Proteomics Products
 
Blue Stream Laboratories has purchased a suite of Agilent Technologies’ proteomics products for its drug-development work, Agilent said last week.
 
Boston-based Blue Stream has stocked its protein-characterization lab with Agilent's HPLC-chip and its 6210 time-of-flight mass spectrometer with MALDI and electrospray capabilities.
 
The deal also includes software and services that support the technology, Agilent said.
 
Blue Stream said its services includes analytical and in vitro biological method development, validation and testing, formulation support, and microbiological testing.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.
 

 
Agilent Certifies Cogenics as microRNA Microarray Service Provider
 
Agilent said this week that it has certified Cogenics as a service provider for its microRNA microarrays.
 
The certification makes Cogenics the first company to offer miRNA expression profiling on Agilent’s platform, Agilent said.
 
The certification includes training and assessment in analyzing 60-mer oligo microarrays, quality control on the Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer, and labeling, hybridization, and bioinformatics data analysis on other platforms, Agilent said.
 

 
Keygene Purchases Next-Gen Sequencers from Roche, Illumina
 
Keygene said this week that it has purchased a 454 GS FLX sequencer from Roche and an Illumina Genome Analyzer.
 
The company upgraded to the GS FLX from a GS 20 and bought the Illumina hardware to "further develop its array of innovative DNA sequence-based applications," the company said today.
 
In early 2006, Keygene bought a GS 20 and a signed a co-marketing collaboration with Roche to market plant genetics applications it developed using the 454 sequencer.
 
The company said it will use the higher-throughput GS FLX to serve its customers' sequencing needs and to support its internal mutation screening and polymorphisms discovery applications.
 
Keygene said it will use the Illumina analyzer for transcript mapping and for developing applications such as its Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism method for whole-genome mapping.
 
Financial terms of the deals were not released.
 
Last week, Swiss DNA-sequencing company Fasteris said it had installed an Illumina Genome Analyzer in its lab in Geneva.

The Scan

Just Breathing

A new analysis suggests that most Mycobacterium tuberculosis is spread by aerosols from breathing, rather than by coughing, the New York Times reports.

Just Like This One

NPR reports that the World Health Organization has hired a South African biotech company to recreate mRNA vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 that is similar to the one developed by Moderna.

Slow Start

The Wall Street Journal reports that Biogen's Alzheimer's disease treatment had revenues for July through September that totaled $300,000.

Genome Research Papers on Cancer Chromatin, Splicing in the Thymus, Circular RNAs in Cancer

In Genome Research this week: analysis of bivalent chromatin sites, RBFOX splicing factors' role in thymic epithelial cells, and more.