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Sigma-Aldrich, Proligo, Thermo Electron, NIH, Clontech, GE Healthcare

Sigma-Aldrich to Acquire
Proligo; Shelves India Facility

Sigma-Aldrich plans to purchase DNA and RNA maker Proligo from Degussa, the company said this week.

Proligo, headquartered in Boulder, Colo., provides custom DNA, RNA, and raw materials for DNA and RNA synthesis. The company is one of four exclusive licensees to an RNAi patent application owned by MIT.

Last year, Proligo had approximately $40 million in sales. The 300-employee company has manufacturing sites in Boulder, France, Germany, Singapore, Japan, and Australia.

"We expect this investment to permit us to participate as a global leader in the genomics and gene-silencing research tools markets for years to come," said David Harvey, Sigma's CEO, in a statement.

The acquisition, which Sigma plans to fund with short-term debt, has already been cleared with both companies' boards of directors. Subject to regulatory approval in Germany and other terms and conditions, the deal is expected to close early in the second quarter of this year. Financial and other terms of the proposed acquisition were not disclosed.

Additionally, Sigma has cancelled plans to establish a facility near Hyderabad, India, according to a report in the Indian Express newspapers of Bombay.

The company, which signed a letter of intent at BioAsia 2004, opted not to build a 10-acre laboratory production facility in the ICICI Knowledge Park because it could not obtain a lease term longer than 25 years, state officials told the the newspaper.

The ICICI Knowledge Park is a 200-acre campus in Turkapally, near Hyderabad, being developed by ICICI Bank in collaboration with the government of Andhra Pradesh.

Thermo Employees in Virgina Facility
Offered Relocation to Ohio, or Severance

Thermo Electron is offering 85 workers employed at its 110,000-square-foot facility near Winchester, Va., a choice between relocating to a larger plant in Marietta, Ohio, or accepting a retraining and severance package, according to a report in the Winchester Star newspaper last week.

The company had announced the closing of the facility formerly owned by Jouan and two other Jouan factories, in Denmark and France, in January. Thermo acquired Jouan in January 2004.

The closing of the facility will be "done in phases," officially shutting down sometime between September and December, the newspaper reported.

NIH Seeks Cancer-Related
Protein Biomarker Proposals

The National Institutes of Health issued last week a request for research proposals focusing on identifying protein biomarkers for cancer "where etiology of the disease is attributed to infectious agents."

According to the NIH, it is seeking proposals that will help develop resources to identify subpopulations of patients exposed to an infectious agent who are likely to develop infection-associated cancer.

"Identifying these subpopulations has proven difficult," the NIH said. "Molecular markers provide a potential tool to identify the at-risk subpopulation and the presence of early stage cancers. This initiative encourages research to identify proteomic markers for risk assessment and early detection in individuals exposed to infectious agents that have been linked to cancer."

The NIH said that while it will fund select research projects, "because the nature and scope of the proposed research will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size and duration of each award will also vary." The agency added that no funds have been specifically earmarked for the program, but that "awards pursuant to this funding opportunity are considered of high programmatic significance for funding consideration."

The National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research are the participating institutes on this funding opportunity.

Clontech, Still for Sale, Releases
New DNA Polymerase Product

BD Biosciences Clontech released BD Taq Full DNA Polymerase, a new DNA amplification product. The enzyme is a full-length recombinant version of the Thermus aquaticus strain YT1 DNA polymerase that can amplify DNA from any template and is recommended by the company for any general PCR amplification procedure. It is also available with a hot start antibody. Clontech is now classified as a discontinued operation as BD continues its plan to offer the unit for sale.

GE Healthcare Introduces
ADME Rat 16-Assay Array

GE Healthcare rolled out the ADME Rat 16-Assay microarray product. The gene-expression array has a multi-assay chamber that allows up to 16 samples to be processed in parallel on every slide. Each slide has 16 arrays, containing over 1,200 oligonucleotide probes with each targeting rat genes involved in drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion processes. This is the first CodeLink catalog product that offers 16 assays per slide. It is compatible with existing CodeLink instruments, reagents, and accessories, the company said. GE Healthcare has also upgraded its CodeLink Expression Analysis Software. Version 4.1 is now available and compatible with the new array.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.