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Invitrogen, Genetic Applications, MDS, Becton Dickinson, Accelr8 Technology, Affymetrix, Agencourt Biosciences, Applied Biosystems, Mettler Toledo, Integromics, Harvard Bioscience, Skystone Advisors

Invitrogen, Genetic Applications Settle Lawsuit
Invitrogen and Genetic Applications have settled a lawsuit that Genetic Applications filed last year alleging Invitrogen’s infringement of a patent covering gene-transfer technology.
According to court documents, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas dismissed the case on Dec. 10 in response to a request from Genetic Applications. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and Invitrogen officials declined to comment further.
Genetic Applications filed suit against Invitrogen in October 2006 alleging that the company infringed US Patent No. RE39220, a reissue of US Patent No. 5,670,347. The patent covers the use of a synthetic polypeptide to transfer DNA into eukaryotic cell lines and primary cells.
Genetic Applications claimed that Invitrogen infringed the reissued patent through the sale of its Plus Reagent, which is used to introduce DNA into the nucleus of living cells.
Genetic Applications initially sued Life Technologies for infringing the ‘347 patent in June 1999, but that case was dismissed because Life Technologies filed a request to have the patent reviewed and reissued.
On Aug. 1, 2006, the US Patent and Trademark Office reissued the patent as No. RE39220 and Genetic Applications filed suit against Invitrogen, which acquired Life Technologies in 2000.
As BioCommerce Week reported in October, Invitrogen had asked the Texas court to bar Genetic Applications from recovering damages because it failed to timely assert its rights under the R‘220 patent (see BioCommerce Week 10/17/2007).
In an October filing with the court, Invitrogen said that the seven-year delay in filing the case was “unreasonable and inexcusable,” and accused Genetic Applications of “laches,” or undue delay in asserting a claim in order to increase damages.
“A plaintiff may not ‘intentionally lie in wait watching damages escalate’ … which is precisely what Genetic Applications has done in this case,” Invitrogen said at the time.

MDS’ Q4 Revenues Rise 22 Percent
MDS last week reported fourth-quarter revenue of $338 million, a 22 percent increase over revenue of $260 million in the comparable quarter a year ago.
MDS Analytical Technologies, which includes the operations of Molecular Devices and Sciex, had revenue growth of 92 percent in the quarter to $119 million. Sciex contributed $65 million to that total, while Molecular Devices brought in revenue of $54 million.
MDS acquired Molecular Devices in March for roughly $615 million (see BioCommerce Week 1/31/2007). 
The MDS Pharma Services unit had 1 percent revenue growth year over year to $123 million, while MDS Nordion had revenue of $76 million, flat with last year.
The firm’s R&D costs in the quarter increased 14 percent to $8 million.
MDS posted a profit of $15 million, down from $47 million year over year. But last year’s fourth-quarter results included $33 million in income from discontinued operations.
For full-year 2007, MDS reported revenue of $1.2 billion compared with $1 billion last year. Its net income was $772 million compared with $127 million last year. This year’s results include $806 million in income from discontinued operations related to the sale of the firm’s Canadian diagnostics business.
As of Oct. 31, MDS had $259 million in cash and cash equivalents.

BD May Develop Accelr8 Platform for Dx Applications
Becton Dickinson has bought the rights to negotiate with Accelr8 Technology to develop its BACcel rapid diagnostic platform, Accelr8 said last week.
BD will pay Accelr8 $100,000 for the right to an exclusive negotiation period lasting through March 31, 2008, during which the companies will consider a development and commercialization program for the system. Such an agreement could include licensing rights, an equity investment, a joint development, or other type of development program, said Accelr8.
“BD could bring many resources to bear and speed the path to market, helping to further consolidate their leadership in managing infectious diseases,” Accelr8 President David Howson said in a statement.
Accelr8 believes the system can be used to target hospital-acquired infections and antibiotic-resistant pathogens including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, and other strains of Klebsiella and E. coli.
The hospital-acquired infections testing market is a key target for BD, which acquired HAI molecular diagnostics developer GeneOhm Sciences nearly two years ago for $230 million.
Howson also noted that the BACcel complements BD’s automated culturing systems and gene analysis offerings.

Affymetrix Investors Exercise Over-Allotment Option
Affymetrix last week said that it had raised an additional $41.25 million from the exercise of an over-allotment option connected to last month’s senior convertible notes offering.
Last month, the firm raised $275 million from the sale of 3.5 percent senior convertible notes due 2038. The notes will be convertible into Affymetrix common stock at a rate of 33.191 shares per $1,000 principal amount of notes, which it said is equivalent to around $30.12 a share.
Affy said that it plans to use the funds for working capital and for general corporate purposes, which may include funding operations, acquisitions, and capital expenditures.
In separate news last week, the firm’s stock was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” by investment bank UBS.

Agencourt Biosciences Adds Second SOLiD System to Sequencing Services
Agencourt Biosciences has added a second Applied Biosystems' SOLiD System to its tool shed for use in commercial and academic sequencing services, the Beckman Coulter subsidiary said this week.
Agencourt's genomic services utilize the unit’s Solid Phase Reversible Immobilization bead-based chemistries and kits and Beckman Coulter’s Biomek automated lab workstations for nucleic acid purification.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

Applied Biosystems to Integrate Systems with Mettler Toledo, Integromics
Applied Biosystems and Mettler Toledo have integrated lab information management systems and software in an effort to offer researchers the ability to manage data between instruments, ABI said this week.
Mettler Toledo, based in Greifensee, Switzerland, makes weighing instruments for drug development and other biological and chemical research areas.
Under the partnership, ABI will market, install, and maintain the integrated products, which include its SQL*LIMS and Mettler Toledo’s LabX data management software.
ABI said it expects the integrated systems will help researchers manage data more efficiently and save time and costs in day-to-day laboratory processes.
In a separate announcement last week, ABI said that it and Integromics have partnered to integrate and co-market a high-throughput software system for real-time PCR data analysis.
The system will combine Integromics’ Real-Time StatMiner software with any of ABI’s RT-PCR systems. It will enable researchers to analyze data from an RT-PCR instrument using interactive data visualization, statistical analysis, and data mining tools.  
John Gerace, VP and GM of sequence detection for ABI, said the offering will allow gene expression researchers to “turn their data into meaningful information for use in a range of research projects including drug discovery and development.”

Harvard Bioscience Board Rejects $154M Buyout Offer
Harvard Bioscience's board of directors last week unanimously rejected a buyout offer from Skystone Advisors for $5 a share. 
Skystone, a Cayman Islands-incorporated LLC with operations in Boston, has been investing in Harvard Bio since 2005 and currently owns around 15 percent of the company. Its offer represents a premium of around 11 percent over Harvard Bio’s trading price of $4.50 Friday afternoon, the day it announced the offer, and values the firm at roughly $154 million based on 30.8 million shares outstanding.
In a letter to Skystone Managing Member Kerry Nelson, Harvard Bio CEO Chane Graziano said that the offer undervalues the firm. "We believe our current strategy of combining tuckunder acquisitions with organic growth can deliver better value to our stockholders than the Skystone offer," he said.
Skystone said in its offer that the $5 bid is “a full price” and an “attractive opportunity” for shareholders, particularly because Harvard Bio’s shares have fallen 19 percent year-to-date, despite an increase in earnings per share of around 9 percent year over year.
In a letter to Harvard Bio’s board of directors that was filed late last week with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Skystone's Nelson said the firm “needs to execute a plan to roughly double its revenue and pretax profits within the next three years.”
She said that given Harvard Bio’s single-digit organic growth rate, the only way it can double its revenue and profits is though an aggressive accretive acquisition strategy.
“Historically and recently, the timing of these tuck-in acquisitions has been inconsistent due to the often lengthy process of buying small privately owned businesses, management bandwidth, and the company’s capital constraints,” said Nelson. “We believe there is significant risk to successfully executing the necessary acquisition strategy while simultaneously handling the costs, limitations, and distractions of being a public company.”
Earlier in the month, Harvard Bioscience sold its Genomics Solutions Division and its Maia Scientific Business to Digilab for $1 million in cash and a 20 percent earn-out of revenue over a three-year period.
Harvard Bio also said last week it plans to buy back up to $10 million of its common stock through the open market or through private transactions over the next two years.
Nelson said that this move “will only increase the illiquidity problem,” and that the buyback is too small to entice shareholders who want to sell their shares. In effect, the move is “a tacit admission that currently management cannot yield a better return for shareholders through more aggressive capital deployment in acquisitions or higher research and development spending,” she said.
Graziano disagreed with this assessment, saying in his letter to Nelson that the share repurchase "confirms our optimism about the future prospects for the company."
Nelson noted that Skystone would be willing consider an increased offer if Harvard Bio provides “additional information demonstrating greater value.”

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.