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Invitrogen, Sentigen, Applera, Enzo Biochem, Dublin City University, Sigma-Aldrich, Celera Genomics, Affymetrix, Baylor College of Medicine, Nanogen, Cepheid

Invitrogen Closes Acquisition of Sentigen
Invitrogen this week said that it has closed its acquisition of Sentigen Holding.
The $25.9 million cash deal was announced in September (see BioCommerce Week 9/6/2006). Invitrogen paid $3.37 per share for the Phillipsburg, NJ-based company, which will become part of Invitrogen’s Discovery Sciences division, located in Madison, Wis.
With the acquisition, Invitrogen picks up Sentigen’s Tango assay system for protein-interaction analysis and GPCR screening and its assay-ready cells that pare down the assay process, the company said.
The firm is betting that Sentigen's technologies will help it grow its own assay-development business by providing an additional way to screen G-protein coupled receptors and other “key” drug target classes.
At close of the business day Dec. 1, Sentigen had $11 million in cash and cash investments, the company said.

Court Nixes ABI Appeal in Enzo Patent-Infringement Suit
A Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has denied an appeal made by Applera in a patent-infringement suit filed against it by Enzo Biochem, Enzo said last week.
The decision gives the green light to Enzo’s lawsuit, which claims that Applied Biosystems and its Tropix subsidiary infringe Enzo’s nucleic acid analysis patents.
The appeal that the court turned down was filed by ABI in response to a Markman ruling in October that supported most of Enzo’s patent claims (see BioCommerce Week 10/18/2006). In its suit, Enzo claims ABI’s TagMan genotyping and gene-expression arrays and expression-array system infringe certain of its IP.
That Markman ruling contradicted another Markman ruling delivered by a US District Court in New York during the summer as part of a separate Enzo patent case that covers the same patents and accuses multiple defendants of infringement (see BioCommerce Week 7/26/2006). That ruling said Enzo’s case could proceed but rejected much of the company’s interpretation of the patents. That suit is still ongoing.
In an unrelated matter, ABI and Enzo were thrust into another IP dispute earlier this month after the US Patent and Trademark Office found that a patent application Enzo filed 24 years ago interferes with a patent covering genome sequencing technology that is owned by the California Institute of Technology and licensed exclusively to Applied Biosystems (see BioCommerce Week 11/21/2006).
The USPTO has named Enzo the senior party in the interference case, which is central to ABI’s sequencing instruments. By naming Caltech the junior party in the case, the patent office put ABI at a significant disadvantage, according to legal experts.

Dublin City University Joins Sigma-Aldrich’s RNAi Program
Sigma-Aldrich last week said Dublin City University will become a member of the company’s RNAi Partnership Program, which will allow the university to use Sigma’s functional genomics portfolio and the shRNA libraries developed by Sigma and the RNAi Consortium.
Ronan Murphy, a researcher at the Vascular Health Research Center at Dublin City University, said the center will use the consortium's shRNA information and Sigma’s tools to study the link between integrin receptor regulation in cells and vascular disease.

Murphy described the center’s work as being highly relevant to other research in areas such as immunology, hematology, cancer, and neurobiology. He added that using the shRNA library will “greatly accelerate our ability to prioritize genes that are functionally relevant” to its research.    

Sigma said the team at the VHRC has already begun using the company’s technology and the consortium's libraries.

The Partnership Program is a series of collaborations between Sigma and academic institutions to use, share, and to develop RNAi technologies and intellectual properties, and to study the relationship between gene functioning and disease.

The RNAi Consortium comprises a group of representatives of companies and academic institutions including MIT, Harvard Medical School, Washington University, Novartis, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, and Sigma-Aldrich, among others.  


Celera Genomics Drops Genomics from Its Name
Celera Genomics has been renamed Celera, according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing late last month.
The Applera unit will be formally called Celera Group. It had been known as Celera Genomics Group.
Shareholders approved the name change at the firm’s annual investor conference on Oct. 19. It became effective Dec. 1.
Celera will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the “CRA” ticker symbol. Stockholders will not be required to change out their share certificates.

Affymetrix Licenses Array IP to Baylor for CLIA-based Test Services
Baylor College of Medicine has licensed a number of patents from Affymetrix to perform certain microarray services in Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments environments, the organizations said this week.
Under the terms of the deal, scientists at Baylor’s Department of Molecular and Human Genetics will have non-exclusive rights to use Affy’s patents for comparative genomics hybridization microarray services.
Arthur Beaudet, chair of Baylor’s DMHG, said the scientists will use the technology “to identify specific genetic abnormalities in many children that have developmental disabilities with previously unknown causes.”
The DMHG conducts research in a wide variety of fields, including functional genomics, sequencing, human and mammal genome studies, and numerous diseases.
Financial details or the duration of the agreement were not disclosed.

Nanogen, Cepheid Among Firms Getting CDC Grants to Develop Portable Flu Dx
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded $11.4 million to Cepheid, Nanogen, and two other companies developing “quick” and “accurate” field-deployable tests to diagnose H5N1 avian flu and other influenza viruses, the CDC said this week.
The CDC said it intends to work with the US Food and Drug Administration to help tests developed from the program to receive FDA clearance and be ready for commercialization “within two to three years.”
Nanogen pocketed $4.5 million to develop “a novel point of care immunoassay system.” In its own statement, Cepheid said its award covers phases one and two of a five-phase, 30-month program.
Nanogen said it will use the cash to develop a third-generation lateral flow immunoassay that will cost about the same as other POC tests on the market. If the CDC continues funding Nanogen through phases three through five, the entire project value for the company could total $12.5 million.
Cepheid has won $2.4 million to develop flu assays on its GeneXPert platform. The company said it has been contracted to develop an automated test for use on the GeneXpert system using real-time PCR, which will not require specific expertise or specialized training.
The two other companies include Iquum, based in Marlborough, Mass., which received $3.8 million to develop a lab-in-a-tube system, and MesoScale, of Gaithersburg, Md., which won $706, 241 to develop its multi-array detection system.
The $3.8 million Iquum received for phases one and two will be used to develop nucleic acid tests that will differentiate H5N1 from other flu viruses. Iquum did not say whether it expects to be contracted for the later phases of the project.
The CDC said it hopes to work with the companies over the coming year to create point-of-care tests that can detect and differentiate various flu viruses, including avian H5N1, in 30 minutes.
These tests would need to be easily adaptable to account for the ability of certain viruses to rapidly mutate, and to be ready for the swift emergence of unknown ones, the CDC said.
In a statement, CDC Director Julie Gerberding said the center hopes the contracts generate “promising technology that could help doctors treat their patients faster and help public health authorities track influenza viruses that could spur a pandemic."

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.