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Stratagene, Max Planck, Molecular Devices, GE, Applied Biosystems, Qiagen, Bruker BioSciences, Oxford Gene Technology, Roche, German Research Ministry

Stratagene Expects 7 Percent Rise in Q4 Revenues;
Licenses microRNA Sequences from Max Planck
 
Stratagene last week said that it expects fourth-quarter revenue to be around $24.7 million, or 7 percent better than last year’s pro forma revenue of $23 million for the same period.
 
The uptick came largely from sales of the company’s QPCR products and reagents, which were up 7 percent, and from allergy diagnostics products, which were up 23 percent, Stratagene said.
 
However, Stratagene said it expects these increases to be offset by an expected drop in sales of its gene-discovery and cloning products.  
 
Stratagene did not say how much it expects these legacy sales to decrease, but CEO Joe Sorge said the company believes market growth for molecular and clinical diagnostics will “provide sizeable, long-term profitable revenue growth opportunities.”
 
The company expects to release final fourth-quarter and full-year results in early March 2007. 
 
In the fourth quarter of 2005, Stratagene received a one-time payment of $34.1 million from Cambridge Antibody Technology for patent interests, which boosted total revenue to $57.1 million (see BioCommerce Week 3/8/2006).
 
In a separate announcement this week, Stratagene said that it has licensed rights to more than 150 microRNA sequences from Max Planck Innovation, the commercial arm of the Max Planck Society.
 
Under the agreement, Stratagene purchased co-exclusive rights to use the sequences to make and sell molecular diagnostic kits based on its FullVelocity technology.
 
The company said it is particularly interested in the use of microRNAs for cancer biomarker applications.
 
Max Planck Innovation said that over the past five years it has generated more than €100 million ($130 million) through technology transfer licenses.
 

 
Molecular Devices Posts Flat Q4 Revenue and R&D Spend as Profit Tumbles 31 Percent
 
Molecular Devices last week said fourth-quarter revenues remained virtually flat as R&D spending was unchanged and profit decreased 31 percent.
 
Total receipts for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2006, increased to $52.8 million from $52.7 million year over year. Molecular Devices did not break out revenues by business unit.
 
R&D spending was flat at $6.3 million in both quarters, and the company said that profit declined to $4 million, or $.24 per share, from $5.8 million, or $.34 per share, in the year-ago period.
 
Molecular Devices said it had around $22.8 million in cash and equivalents as of Dec. 31.
 
Last week, MDS said it plans to acquire Molecular Devices for $615 million in cash (see BioCommerce Week 1/31/2007).
 

 
GE Licenses Magnetic Separation IP to Applied Biosystems
 
GE Healthcare this week said Applied Biosystems has licensed its patents covering biomagnetic isolation of nucleic acids.
 
Under the agreement, ABI has access to the magnetic separation IP to isolate and purify nucleic acids through the duration of the patents, GE Healthcare said.
 
This technology is used with DNA and RNA from lab and clinical samples, and GE Healthcare said it offers higher yields and does not clog, which the company said is a drawback to filter-based isolation methods.
 
GE Healthcare said ABI plans to use the separation protocol with its MagMax isolation kits.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
 

 
Qiagen Downgraded by Investment Bank
 
Investment Bank First Analysis Securities downgraded its rating on Qiagen’s stock from “overweight” to “equal-weight” this week.
 
Qiagen’s shares have climbed sharply since the end of December. The firm’s stock was up 18.4 percent for the year when it closed at $17.91 on Monday.
 
On Tuesday, its shares dropped 3.1 percent to close at $17.35, following the downgrade from First Analysis.
 

 
Bruker Prices Public Offering at $7.10 Per Share
 
Bruker BioSciences said this week that it has priced its public offering of 10.4 million shares of common stock at $7.10 per share.
 
Of the 10.4 million shares on offer, 2.2 million are being sold by the company and 8.2 million are being sold by four members of the Laukien family, who hold a controlling interest in the firm. Bruker expects to realize net proceeds of $14.7 million from the offering.
 
The underwriters of the offering have an option to purchase an additional 1.56 million shares from the company and the selling shareholders to cover over-allotments. If that option is exercised, Bruker would receive an additional $2.2 million in net proceeds.
 
Bruker said that it would use the funds for general corporate purposes, potential acquisitions, and to repay debt.
 
Shares of Bruker closed at $7.72 in Tuesday trade on the Nasdaq.
 

 
Law Firm Requests Reexamination of Two OGT Microarray Patents
A California law firm has filed a request with the US Patent and Trademark Office for the reexamination of two microarray patents in the portfolio of Oxford Gene Technology, according to documents sent this week to BioCommerce Week and sister publication GenomeWeb News.
 
The ex parte reexamination request was filed on behalf of a client who wishes to remain anonymous, according to Anthony Craig, an attorney at the IP law firm Fliesler Meyer, which filed the requests in mid-January.
 
The firm requested that the USPTO reexamine US Patent No. 5,700,637, “Apparatus and Method for Analyzing Polynucleotide Sequences and Method of Generating Oligonucleotide Arrays,” and US Patent No. 6,054,270, “Analyzing Polynucleotide Sequences,” noting that several claims in each patent are covered by prior art.
 
As an example, the reexamination request for the ‘637 patent, which was granted in 1997, cites as prior art the user’s manual for Applied Biosystems’ 380B Synthesizer version 1.0, published in 1985.
 
Craig cited the fact that the patent’s claims “encompass an instrument that was already on the market” as evidence that the OGT patent is too broad as currently written. The reexamination requests cite several other examples of prior art for both patents in question.
 
“The patent office can make a mistake,” he said.
 
Craig said he expects the USPTO to make a decision on whether to reexamine the patent in around three months.
 
The likelihood of the USPTO granting the reexamination request is fairly high, according to a 2006 study in the North Carolina Journal of Law & Technology that found that 98 percent of ex parte reexamination requests filed in 2004 were granted. Of all patents that were reexamined through 2003, the study found, 10 percent had all claims cancelled and 64 percent had some claims cancelled or limited.
 
Peter Hotten, director of licensing and business development at OGT, told GenomeWeb News that the company is “aware of this latest attempt to challenge our fundamental microarray patents in the US.”
 
He added that these patents “have been extensively litigated and licensed and their validity recognized.”
 
Hotten declined to provide further comment.
 

 
Roche’s Molecular Dx Business Posts 3 Percent Revenue Growth
 
Roche Holding said this week that its molecular diagnostics division generated 2006 revenue of $975.9 million (CHF1,211), a 3 percent increase year over year.
 
According to the company, the molecular diagnostics business retained its leading market share at roughly 38 percent.
 
The firm’s applied science business, which includes sales of 454’s Genome Sequencer 20, reported 12 percent sales growth to $509.5 million.
 
Overall, Roche’s diagnostics unit brought in 2006 revenue of $7 billion, a 5 percent increase year over year.
 

 
German Research Ministry to Spend $11.4M to Build Protein-Research Facility
 
The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research will provide €8.8 million ($11.4 million) to build a lab for protein and bio-molecular analysis, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory said last week.

The Integrated Facilities for Structural Biology will be an addition to Hamburg’s German Synchrotron Research Center, called the [email protected], and will focus on using synchrotron high-energy radiation to look at molecular structures.

The facility will also house hardware for high-throughput crystallization, sample preparation and characterization and data processing, EMBL said.

EMBL expects the facility to be available by 2010, and said it will be available for use by researchers from around the world.

The Scan

Push Toward Approval

The Wall Street Journal reports the US Food and Drug Administration is under pressure to grant full approval to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Deer Exposure

About 40 percent of deer in a handful of US states carry antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Millions But Not Enough

NPR reports the US is set to send 110 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad, but that billions are needed.

PNAS Papers on CRISPR-Edited Cancer Models, Multiple Sclerosis Neuroinflammation, Parasitic Wasps

In PNAS this week: gene-editing approach for developing cancer models, role of extracellular proteins in multiple sclerosis, and more.