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Invitrogen, JPMorgan Healthcare, Thermo Electron, Bio-Rad, Beckman Coulter, PerkinElmer, Procognia, Hutch Center, TGen, IGC, University of Texas, USDA, Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Invitrogen Leads off JPMorgan Healthcare Conference Lineup

At least eight of the 15 multiplatform molecular biology tools companies on the BioCommerce Week Index (see page 5) are scheduled to present at the annual JPMorgan Healthcare conference slated for Jan. 10-13 in San Francisco.

Invitrogen, Waters, Thermo Electron, Becton Dickinson, Applied Biosystems, PerkinElmer, Beckman Coulter, and Bio-Rad Laboratories are slated to present according to a preliminary agenda released last week by JPMorgan.

Additionally, Agilent Technologies told BioCommerce Week that it will also present at the meeting, which will be held at the Westin St. Francis hotel.

Some 260 public and private companies are expected to present at the conference, down from a peak of 300 companies in 2002.

Following is the agenda for BCW companies:

Monday, Jan. 10

  • 9:30 — Invitrogen
  • 3:00 — Waters

Tuesday, Jan. 11

  • 9:00 — Thermo Electron

Wednesday, Jan. 12

  • 8:00 — Becton Dickinson
  • 8:30 — Applied Biosystems
  • 9:30 — PerkinElmer

Thursday, Jan. 13

  • 10:30 — Beckman Coulter
  • 12:30 — Bio-Rad Laboratories

Thermo Electron Opens Shanghai Manufacturing Plant

Thermo Electron this week opened a 90,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China.

The facility quadruples the company’s manufacturing capacity in Shanghai, Thermo said in a statement.

It will be used to produce 10 products initially, expanding to more than 20 by 2006, and will employ an addition 300 people when at capacity.

Products manufactured at the site will expand from products such as atomic absorption instruments, plate readers, and sample preparation equipment to include metal detection and environmental instruments. In addition to its role as a center for Asian operations, it is expected that this site will become a central node for supply-chain management and logistics for Thermo worldwide.

China currently accounts for 5 percent of the company’s total revenue.

In addition to the new site, Thermo operates a manufacturing facility in JinQiao. Commercial locations include offices in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong, as well as a newly opened office in Guangzhou.

Bio-Rad Laboratories Seeks to Raise $200 Million in Private Offering of Debt

Bio-Rad Laboratories said this week that it will make a private offering of $200 million in senior subordinated debt due 2014 at an interest rate of 6 1/8 percent. The company said it intends to close the transaction on Dec. 21, 2004.

The proceeds are intended to provide working capital and general corporate purposes, which may include acquisitions, Bio-Rad said in a statement.

Bio-Rad reported $226 million in long-term debt as of fiscal year 2003, according to filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and currently has a debt-to-equity ratio of 47 percent.

Beckman Coulter in Distribution Agrement with pION

Beckman Coulter said this week that it has entered a 5-year distribution agreement with Pion of Woburn, Mass., to develop technology for the automation of in vitro drug permeability measurements, targeting the ADMETox drug screening market.

Beckman Coulter will partner with Pion to provide application-specific customer support and training. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

PerkinElmer and Procognia in Protein Array Pact

PerkinElmer and Procognia this week announced an exclusive distribution and co-marketing agreement to offer array-based glycoanalysis instrumentation.

The company's will combine Procognia's U-c fingerprint lectin array-based platform with PerkinElmer's Protein Array Workstation and its ProScanArray HT product.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Hutch Center Receives $9.7 Million To Develop Tools for Cancer Detection

Science Applications International-Frederick, the operations and technical support contractor for the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md., this week awarded $9.7 million to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to lead a consortium that will develop technology to identify serum biomarkers.

Joining Hutch researchers will be the Institute for Systems Biology, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, and the Plasma Proteome Institute in Washington, DC.

The first year of the two-year award will be devoted to developing and refining the technology needed to compare approaches for discovering new biomarkers. The second year will focus on testing the technology’s ability to detect diagnostic protein biomarkers that are associated with several different mouse models of human cancer, including those of the breast, prostate, ovary, pancreas, skin and lung, according to a statement from Hutchinson institute.

TGen, IGC Receive $1.35M to Create Molecular Profiling Institute

Two nonprofit labs, the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the International Genomics Consortium, have received $1.35 million in seed capital to build a for-profit joint reference laboratory, according to the new laboratory’s CEO.

The lab, called the Molecular Profiling Institute, will become the sole United States provider of a prognostic breast-cancer gene-expression microarray made by the Dutch firm Agendia, said MPI CEO Bob Penny and Agendia CEO Bernhard Sixt.

Seed capital for the laboratory was contributed by Scottsdale Healthcare, the Flinn Foundation, AmeriPath, and venture capital firm EA Management, said Penny, who was chief medical officer at IGC. The “A” round of seed funding collection ended in late October, Penny said.

The array, called MammaPrint, will assess breast cancer recurrence risk.

University of Texas Offers New MD-PhD Program in Molecular Biology Research

The University of Texas at Austin and the Medical Branch at Galveston will offer a new degree program combining medical and molecular studies starting next fall, the school said this week.

Stan Lemon, director of UTMB’s Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, is leading the medical curriculum for the new program.

USDA Gives 14 Institutes $5M to Encourage Genomic Tool Use in Rice Cultivation

The US Department of Agriculture has awarded 14 institutions $5 million to help support the use of genome-based tools to improve rice crops, the agency said this week.

The 14 groups are: the University of Arkansas; the USDA-Agricultural Research Service; the University of California, Berkeley; Kansas State University; the University of Missouri; Louisiana State University; University of California, Davis; Ohio State University; Colorado State University; the Noble Foundation in Oklahoma; the California Rice Research Foundation; the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines; and Cornell University.

The University of Arkansas will coordinate the effort, the USDA said.

Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Gets $1.5M from Alcon to Study Blindness

The Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology has signed a five-year, $1.5 million contract with Alcon Research to find genomic-based methods to prevent blindness, the groups said this week.

The collaboration, for research into the causes of age-related macular degeneration, adds to a similar five-year deal signed in 2003 designed to help scientists better understand glaucoma.

The earlier deal was also for $1.5 million.

Leading the project will be Terry Braun, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and ophthalmology and visual sciences at the UI and director of the Coordinated Laboratory for Computational Genomics; and Robert Mullins, assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences and director of the Chorioretinal Degenerations Laboratory in the UI Center for Macular Degeneration.

The Scan

Study Tracks Off-Target Gene Edits Linked to Epigenetic Features

Using machine learning, researchers characterize in BMC Genomics the potential off-target effects of 19 computed or experimentally determined epigenetic features during CRISPR-Cas9 editing.

Coronary Artery Disease Risk Loci, Candidate Genes Identified in GWAS Meta-Analysis

A GWAS in Nature Genetics of nearly 1.4 million coronary artery disease cases and controls focused in on more than 200 candidate causal genes, including the cell motility-related myosin gene MYO9B.

Multiple Sclerosis Contributors Found in Proteome-Wide Association Study

With a combination of genome-wide association and brain proteome data, researchers in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology tracked down dozens of potential multiple sclerosis risk proteins.

Quality Improvement Study Compares Molecular Tumor Boards, Central Consensus Recommendations

With 50 simulated cancer cases, researchers in JAMA Network Open compared molecular tumor board recommendations with central consensus plans at a dozen centers in Japan.