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Invitrogen,Applied Biosystems, Johns Hopkins, U of Delaware, Los Alamos, EMBL, U of Miami, US Gov t, Axigenic, U of Sydney, Kyorin Pharmaceutical, ActivX, Separation Scientific, Plant Research International, JGI

Invitrogen to Acquire Bio Asia for $8M To Expand Company’s China Presence

Invitrogen announced Wednesday that it will acquire Bio Asia, a Chinese reagent supplier, for up to $8 million in cash, and plans to invest more than $20 million in China over the next five years, the company said.

Bio Asia, which is based in Shanghai and has branches in Beijing and Guangzhou, as well as 18 sales offices across China, provides sequencing reagents and custom R&D services. The company, which was founded in 1999, has approximately $5 million in revenues.

The acquisition, which was approved by both companies’ boards of directors, is pending approval from the Chinese government. It coincides with new guidelines from the World Trade Organization that will open the Chinese biotech industry to foreign-owned companies, according to Invitrogen.

This is not Invitrogen’s first foray into China: In 1989, the company established its first office in the country. Following the Bio Asia acquisition, Invitrogen China will have more than 170 employees.

“Building on our new manufacturing and distribution base, Invitrogen intends to be a leading biotechnology provider to researchers in China,” said Jeff Greenberg, Invitrogen’s general manager for Asia Pacific, in a company statement.

Bio Asia is the ninth purchase Invitrogen has made in the last two years.

Applied Biosystems Introduces Whole-Rat-Genome Microarray

Applied Biosystems on Wednesday announced the commercial availability of the Rat Genome Survey Microarray for use with its proprietary Expression Array System. The product is based on content from public sources and from sister-company Celera’s database.

Additionally, the company introduced AmpFLSTR Yfiler, a PCR amplification kit, for the specific detection of male DNA. The product introduction includes the availability of a haplotype database containing over 3,000 population samples typed using the Yfiler kit.

Johns Hopkins, U of Delaware, Los Alamos to Create Computational Biology Institute with $2.7M DOE Grant

Johns Hopkins University, the University of Delaware, and Los Alamos National Laboratory have won a three-year, $2.7 million grant from the US Department of Energy to establish a computational biology research institute, according to a report in a Johns Hopkins newspaper.

The Institute for Multi-Scale Modeling of Biological Interactions will study biological systems at several levels, ranging from protein interactions to the behavior of complex networks. It will include faculty and researchers from all three participating institutions, covering biophysics, chemistry, physiology, chemical and biomolecular engineering, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical and computer engineering.

The new institute builds on a program in computational biology established at Johns Hopkins in 1999. Besides research, the DOE grant will support a PhD program.

Iceland to Join EMBL in 2005

Iceland will join the European Molecular Biology Laboratory as its 18th member state on Jan. 1, 2005, EMBL said this week.

At EMBL, Iceland will be represented by Eirikur Steingrimsson, a professor of medicine at the University of Iceland. The country will participate in all EMBL activities, which include research institutes, PhD programs, and research services.

EMBL currently has 1,300 staff members at its sites in Grenoble, France; Hamburg and Heidelberg, Germany; Hinxton, UK; and Monterotondi, Italy. Members include most Western European countries and Israel.

University of Miami Gets $5M Grant To Create Genetic Diagnostics Laboratory

The University of Miami School of Medicine will create a “comprehensive” medical genetics diagnostic laboratory with a $5 million grant from the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, the university said last week in a statement.

The Miami GeneCure Diagnostics laboratory will consist of a molecular genetics lab that will perform genetic diagnostic testing for human disease susceptibility, and a cytogenetics lab that will focus on chromosomal abnormalities, said UM. GeneCure also includes a biochemical genetic lab focused on “diagnosing and following” inborn errors of metabolism, the university said.

The new lab will be comprise UM’s Department of Pediatrics’ Molecular and Biomedical Genetics Laboratories and its cytogenics laboratory.

US Gov’t Sets New Rules for SBIR Funding; Public Comment Period Open

The Federal Register published last week a final ruling regarding small business requirements for SBIR funding.

According to the Small Business Administration, an SBIR grant recipient must be a for-profit business that is at least 51-percent owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States.

Alternatively, the grant recipient can be majority owned and controlled by a for-profit concern that is at least 51-percent owned and controlled by an individual or individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States.

The ruling also “permits subsidiaries to be eligible for SBIR awards under certain conditions.”

In its ruling, which was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 3, SBA noted that this rule does not change the size standard required to receive SBIR funding. Currently, a company or its affiliates must employ no more than 500 people.

The SBA said that because it has received a large number of comments concerning ownership of SBIR Program participants by venture capital firms, SBA said it plans to issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comments from the public this issue.

The SBA is also currently seeking comments from the public on several issues that were raised during the public comment period of the administration’s recently withdrawn proposal to restructure its small business size standards. Specifically, the SBA is seeking comments on whether it should provide an exclusion from affiliation with venture capital companies in determining small business eligibility for the SBIR program, the NIH said.

All comments must be received by Feb. 1, 2005.

Axigenic, University of Sydney Win $116K Australian Grant to Develop Microarrays

Axogenic and the University of Sydney will use a AUS$150,000 ($116,000) Australian Research Council industry-linkage grant to examine new technologies for the interactive visualization of microarray data

According to Axogenic, the technologies, when developed, will be integrated into the company’s product line to help speed genetic and proteomic research.

Research will be conducted at the National Information and Communication Technology Australia facilities under a research program led by Peter Eades, head of the School of Information Technologies at the University of Sydney, Axogenic said.

Japanese Drug Maker to Acquire Proteomics Shop ActivX for $21M

Kyorin Pharmaceutical of Tokyo will buy proteomics company ActivX Biosciences for $21 million, the company said last week.

Kyorin will create a US subsidiary and merge it with ActivX, which will then become a wholly owned subsidiary of Kyorin. An acquisition date was not disclosed.

Kyroin and ActivX, of La Jolla, Calif., have collaborated since 2002 in a Type II diabetes discovery program, and in January expanded their activities to include metabolic disorders. ActivX also has collaborations with Pfizer, Gilead, and an undisclosed additional pharma partner.

ActivX uses a core proteomics technology, licensed from Scripps, that consists of fluorescent chemical affinity probes that bind to the active sites of a specific class of proteins.

Separation Scientific to Sell, Support PerkinElmer Products in Southern Africa

South Africa-based Separation Scientific will provide sales and support for PerkinElmer customers in 10 South African countries as part of an agreement signed by the companies, PerkinElmer said last week.

Separation Scientific is a laboratory-service company.

The new operation will be based in South Africa, with offices serving Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, and the Indian Ocean islands, PerkinElmer said.

The agreement consolidates the previous mix of direct and dealer sales into a single source for all PerkinElmer Life & Analytical Sciences products, the company said.

JGI, Plant Research International To Sequence Genome of Plant Fungus

Plant Research International and the Joint Genome Institute of the US Department of Energy on sequencing the genome of the Mycosphaerella graminicola fungus.

The fungus causes septoria tritici leaf blotch disease, the primary threat to wheat cultivation in Europe, PRI said. Costs of fighting the disease is estimated at €600 million ($800.7 million) annually.

The study will be carried by the Community Sequencing Program of the DoE.



The Scan

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.

Machine Learning Improves Diagnostic Accuracy of Breast Cancer MRI, Study Shows

Combining machine learning with radiologists' interpretations further increased the diagnostic accuracy of MRIs for breast cancer, a Science Translational Medicine paper finds.

Genome Damage in Neurons Triggers Alzheimer's-Linked Inflammation

Neurons harboring increased DNA double-strand breaks activate microglia to lead to neuroinflammation like that seen in Alzheimer's disease, a new Science Advances study finds.

Long COVID-19 Susceptibility Clues Contained in Blood Plasma Proteome

A longitudinal study in eBioMedicine found weeks-long blood plasma proteome shifts after SARS-CoV-2 infection, along with proteomic signatures that appeared to coincide with long Covid risk.