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Qiagen, Genome Diagnostics, Agilent, Affymetrix, Sigma-Aldrich, Citigroup, Invitrogen, Applied Biosystems, Nanogen

Qiagen to Market Genome Diagnostics’ HLA Typing Products
Qiagen secured commercial rights to sell reagents and software for Genome Diagnostics' sequencing based typing technology, Genome Diagnostics said this week.
The Dutch company has developed a proprietary strategy for typing human leukocyte antigen genes. Qiagen will have global distribution rights to the technology as of January 2007.
Qiagen already has an exclusive sales and distribution agreement to distribute Olerup SSP's HLA sequence specific primer technology for HLA typing, Genome Diagnostics said. With this agreement, Qiagen can offer both products to researchers for a complete HLA typing solution.
Financial details were not disclosed.

Agilent Asks Court to Review Affymetrix Patent Application
Agilent Technologies has asked a court to review a US Patent and Trademark Office decision that found that an Affymetrix patent application does not interfere with an existing Agilent patent.
Agilent’s request, filed in US District Court for the Northern District of Northern California Sept. 26 and obtained by GenomeWeb News, alleges that an Affy patent application is identical to a 3-year-old Agilent patent.
Agilent claims that the inventors of Affy’s US Patent Application No. 10/619,224 filed their claims "literally copying" the language of Agilent’s US Patent No. 6,513,968.
Agilent’s patent, entitled "Apparatus and method for mixing a film of fluid," was assigned in February 2003.
After Affy filed its application with the USPTO Agilent contested its claims. But according to a June 28 ruling, the USPTO found that Affy's claims are indeed patentable, and proceeded to cancel two of Agilent’s claims from its '968 patent.
In its motion, Agilent has asked the court to reverse the USPTO’s decision that certain claims in Affy's patent application are patentable. Agilent is also seeking "other and further relief as the court sees just and proper.”

Sigma-Aldrich Acquires Advanced Separation Technologies;
SAFC Unit Opens Bangalore Facility
Sigma-Aldrich this week announced that it has acquired Advanced Separation Technologies, a manufacturer of chiral chromatography media and columns, for an undisclosed amount.
Advanced Separation Technologies, based in Whippany, NJ, brings in annual revenue of roughly $2 million, according to Sigma. The acquisition will not have a material impact on Sigma’s sales this year and will be neutral to earnings in fiscal 2006, the company said in a statement.
The acquired operations will enhance the portfolio of Sigma’s Research Specialties business, which currently provides chiral chromatography products.
In a separate release, Sigma said that its SAFC unit has opened a medicinal chemistry facility in Bangalore, India. The 139,000 sq. ft. facility cost Sigma $12 million.

Citigroup Initiates Coverage of Invitrogen, Applied Biosystems
Citigroup investment analyst Elise Wang has initiated coverage of the life sciences tools sector, with Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems among the firms she is now tracking.
Wang started Invitrogen with a “Buy” rating and an $86 target price. Invitrogen’s shares closed Tuesday at $64.16.
She initiated coverage of ABI with a “Hold” rating and a $35 target price. ABI’s shares closed Tuesday at $33.40.
Wang also started coverage of Affymetrix with a “Sell” rating, saying the firm faces major competitive challenges. She put a $19.50 price target on Affy, which closed Tuesday at $20.83.

Nanogen to Cut US Staff by 15 Percent
Nanogen last week said that it plans to cuts its US headcount by 15 percent, or around 48 people, by the end of the year in an effort to improve its cash flow and profits.
The cuts will come from R&D, manufacturing, and sales and marketing, Nanogen said.
In a statement, Nanogen President and COO David Ludvigson said the company is taking the steps to consolidate several recent acquisitions, among them Epoch Biosciences, SynX, Spectral Diagnostics' cardiac assets, and an Amplimedical business.
“The integrations have occurred smoothly with consistent revenue performance,” Ludvigson said. “We are now moving into the second stage of integrating our acquisitions and have identified a number of areas where we can consolidate functions and eliminate redundant activities, which we expect will improve operational performance.”
The news comes a couple of days after Nanogen disclosed it has sold royalty rights to its MGB technology for five years. The company has already received a $20 million upfront payment from the buyer, Canadian healthcare investment shop Drug Royalty.
"Monetizing a portion of our royalty stream provides us with a non-dilutive means of raising capital,” Nanogen CEO Howard Birndorf said in a statement.
As part of the royalty deal, between July 2006 and December 2011 Nanogen will receive royalties up to a specified threshold, above which both companies will share royalties.
Nanogen will retain ownership of the technology and will receive all royalties after December 2011.
The MGB technology is used in 5' nuclease real-time PCR applications in biomedical research. Applied Biosystems has licensed the same technology for its TaqMan products.

The Scan

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.

Lupus Heterogeneity Highlighted With Single-Cell Transcriptomes

Using single-cell RNA sequencing, researchers in Nature Communications tracked down immune and non-immune cell differences between discoid lupus erythematosus and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Rare Disease Clues Gleaned From Mobile Element Insertions in Exome Sequences

With an approach called MELT, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics uncovered mobile element insertions in exomes from 3,232 individuals with or without developmental or neurological abnormalities.

Team Tracks Down Potential Blood Plasma Markers Linked to Heart Failure in Atrial Fibrillation Patients

Researchers in BMC Genomics found 10 differentially expressed proteins or metabolites that marked atrial fibrillation with heart failure cases.