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Ocimum Bio Focus Turns to Acquisitions and Disease

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After a year of digesting its acquisition of MWG Biotech’s microarray business, India’s Ocimum Biosolutions is now looking to build on its current offering by acquiring an oligonucleotide synthesis business, investing in disease-specific arrays, and securing an additional $5.5 million from private investors.

The Hyderabad-based company, which currently employs 150 people, is also looking to better integrate its offices in the US, Germany, and India and add personnel.

Ocimum currently offers bioinformatics products, custom and catalog microarrays, and research services, including oligo synthesis. Chief Financial Officer Subash Lingareddy says the company’s new plans reflect its desire to strengthen these product lines.

Specifically, Lingareddy says that Ocimum is interested in expanding its oligo synthesis business from its headquarters in Hyderabad to its offices in Indianapolis and Munich.

“We are looking at acquiring companies [that sell] oligonucleotides [in the] molecular biology space,” Lingareddy says. He adds that Ocimum is eyeing companies with annual revenues of between $5 million and $10 million that play in markets worth at least $500 million.

“We will make Ocimum India the parent for the other companies when the private equity player comes in,” he says. “We will be adding more people at all three locations as we scale up.”

In an interview in May with the Indian online journal Business Standard, Ocimum’s CEO Anuradha Acharya said that the company may finalize an acquisition before the end of this year.

“We are eyeing companies that are both in the IT and life science spaces, or have a presence in the oligonucleotide synthesis space,” Acharya said. She also said that the company is looking at transferring some oligonucleotide synthesis work from the US to India.

— Justin Petrone

 

Short Reads

GenTel BioSciences has received a two-year, $1.2 million Phase II SBIR grant from the NIH to develop a blood-based test to identify specific allergic responses. The new allergy chip is the third content-specific array the microarray provider has pledged to bring to market.

CombiMatrix has signed a subcontract with Northrop Grumman to develop components for DARPA’s Handheld Isothermal Silver Standard Sensor program. The goal of the program is to develop a handheld sensor to identify biological warfare threats, including bacteria, viruses, and toxins.

Genomatix says that Bayer HealthCare has licensed its ChipInspector microarray data analysis platform, which, incidentally, has been awarded Affymetrix GeneChip-Compatible status from the microarray manufacturer.

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DiaGenic has identified a specific gene-expression signature for Parkinson’s disease while working with partner Applied Biosystems. The company also said it had developed screening methods for separating early-stage Alzheimer’s patients from Parkinson’s patients using a blood-based gene expression assay.

PATENT WATCH

US Patent 7,049,073. Double stranded nucleic acid biochips. Inventors: Boris Chernov and Julia Golova. Assignee: University of Chicago. Issued: May 23, 2006.

The patent claims a method of constructing double-stranded DNA microarrays based on the use of pre-synthesized or natural DNA duplexes without a stem-loop structure. The complementary oligo chains are bonded together by a connector that includes a linker for immobilization on a matrix, the patent’s abstract states.

US Patent 7,049,064. Method for obtaining a surface activation of a solid support for building biochip microarrays. Inventors: Laszlo Hevesi, Laurent Jeanmart, and Jose Remacle. Assignee: Eppendorf Array Technologies. Issued: May 23, 2006.

The patent claims a method for making microarrays comprising these steps: 1) submitting the surface of a solid support to an oxidation of chemical groups to allow the formation of aldehyde functions upon that surface; 2) covalently binding capture molecules designed for detection to the aldeyde functions; 3) identifying the quantification and/or the recovery of the complementary target biological or chemical molecules of interest.

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