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Thermo, Fisher, PerkinElmer, Invitrogen, Clontech, Waters, Agilent, Abbott, Genotypic, ABI, Geospiza, Celera, Lentigen, Dharmacon, Genetix, Applied Imaging

Thermo, Fisher Shareholders Approve Merger; Fisher to Divest Product Line to Satisfy FTC
Thermo Electron and Fisher Scientific International recently said that their shareholders have approved their proposed merger.
The companies said that the deal, the largest ever in the biotech industry, remains subject to regulatory approval.
Fisher also said it would divest an undisclosed product line after the Federal Trade Commission asked for information about that line as part of its review into Fisher’s planned merger with Thermo.
Fisher said the product line is worth $17 million.
According to Fisher, the FTC had asked that it and Thermo provide the agency with additional information about the line, which Fisher described as a “single, minor product line.”
Fisher said the FTC’s request is the second time the government agency has asked for information about the companies’ product lines.
“Thermo and Fisher expect to resolve issues raised by the second request by agreeing to divest a $17 million product line of Fisher's,” Fisher said in a statement.
Fisher and Thermo announced their plan to merge in a $10.6 billion deal in May (see BioCommerce Week 5/10/2006).
Fisher also said the companies “expect to obtain termination of the waiting period” under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act in October. Thermo and Fisher are also “working cooperatively with the staff of the European Commission in connection with its review of the proposed merger,” Fisher added.
The companies continue to expect the transaction to close in the fourth quarter following shareholder and regulatory approvals. 

PerkinElmer Acquires Raman Spectrometer Vendor
PerkinElmer said this week that it has acquired Irish instrumentation vendor Avalon Instruments for an undisclosed amount.
Avalon, based in Balfast, manufactures benchtop dispersive Raman spectrometers. PerkinElmer said the instruments expand and complement its molecular spectroscopy product portfolio.
Raman spectroscopy identifies and characterizes the composition of organic and inorganic materials in a wide range of applications, and is a complementary technique to near-infrared spectroscopy and infrared spectroscopy.
The technology is applicable to end markets such as pharmaceuticals, forensics, and academic research, PerkinElmer said.

Trial Date Set for Invitrogen, Clontech Patent Dispute
The US District Court for the District of Maryland Southern Division has set a three-week jury trial next year for a patent infringement suit filed by Invitrogen against Clontech.
The trial is scheduled to run from May 1, 2007 to May 16, with a pre-trial conference scheduled for April 9, according to court documents.
The patent-infringement litigation dates back nine years, and Invitrogen has claimed that Clontech infringes three of its US patents — numbers 6,063,608; 5,244,797; and 5,668,005 — all of which cover embodiments of the firm's reverse transcriptases. The intellectual property relates to mutations that disable the RNase H activity of native reverse transcriptase, the company said.
Late last year, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that Clontech's PowerScript products infringed Invitrogen's '608 patent, which was issued on May 16, 2000 (see BioCommerce Week 12/8/2005). The district court had previously consolidated the claims of all three patents, with the '608 patent taking priority.
"From our perspective, what we are going to address with the district court will be damages, willfulness, and injunction," Alan Hammond, chief intellectual property counsel for Invitrogen, told BioCommerce Week in December. "Perhaps there will be consideration of infringement of the other patents that are part of the suit as well."
Hammond said that the firm had not yet asked for a specific amount in damages. But, if the district court finds that Clontech willfully infringed Invitrogen's patents, Invitrogen could seek triple the amount in damages as well as attorneys' fees.
"This case has been going on for nine years, and this is not the first appeal," Hammond said. "There have been a number of challenges that Clontech has raised, and quite frankly, they've lost on all of those validity challenges they've raised to date."
Invitrogen officials did not return calls this week seeking additional comment.

Waters Acquires Microcalorimeter Manufactruer
Waters last week said that it has acquired privately held Thermometric, a maker of high-performance microcalorimeters, for around $2.5 million.
Waters plans to merge the Jarfalla, Sweden-based company into its TA Instruments unit, which is located in New Castle, Del.
Thermometric generates around $4 million in annual sales. Waters said it expects the purchase to be neutral to its 2006 earnings.
The company’s flagship product, the TAM III, is a modular calorimeter “routinely used to characterize materials, and their interactions, in the fields of pharmaceuticals, life and materials sciences.”
TA Instruments President Terry Kelly said Thermometric’s products and technologies complement its “position in thermal analysis and will allow us to expand our business into new applications, especially in life science research.”
Waters acquired TA in 1996. The company said thermometrics complements liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, and thermal analysis, three markets in which Waters competes.
According to Thermometric’s website, the TAM can be used to study many phenomena associated with metabolic activity, including applications in cancer research where the technology can be used to detect disorders of cellular metabolism.

Agilent Inks Gene Expression Deals with Abbott, Genotypic
Agilent last week said that Abbott Molecular has granted it a license to manufacture, market, and sell oligonucleotide microarrays using a two-or-more color technology for gene expression and comparative genomic hybridization applications.

The worldwide, non-exclusive license covers the use of microarrays for research, commercial labs, and in vitro diagnostic applications.

Separately, Agilent announced that Indian bioinformatics company Genotypic will provide gene expression-analysis and consulting services in that country.
Genotypic, based in Bangalore, is an authorized Agilent distributor.
Financial terms of both agreements were not disclosed.

ABI Tools to Outfit New NYC Forensic Lab; State Bill Could Influence Capacity
More than $5.5 million worth of PCR instruments and genetic analyzers made by Applied Biosystems will outfit a new DNA forensic lab in New York.
However, a bill pending in the New York State legislature could determine whether some of this capacity remains idle.
The new Forensic Biology DNA Laboratory, scheduled to be completed in November, cost around $250 million to build and will contain more than 75 of the ABI tools, according to Franek Technologies, whose surge-protection technology will back up the facility.
The ABI technology will expand the testing capacity of the existing facility by allowing DNA to be analyzed from “all [criminal] cases” rather than only from sex crimes and homicides. And if a state bill passes, the new facility will increase the number of forensic samples that New York City contributes to the state's DNA database, according to comments New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made in May.
The legislation, pending in the State Assembly, seeks to require that “all convicted criminals provide DNA samples for inclusion in the State DNA and US Department of Justice CODIS Databases,” according to Bloomberg. The bill, submitted by Governor George Pataki, was passed by the State Senate in February.
“Without passage of the DNA legislation, the lab will be unable to maximize its capacity to analyze and evaluate” the additional data, the Bloomberg statement said.
The lab will expand an existing facility located at the Bellevue Hospital Complex on Manhattan’s East Side, and will be overseen by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York.

ABI Releases Sequencer File Format in Bid to Boost Software Development, Data Sharing; Expands Development Pact with Geospiza
Applied Biosystems has released the genetic analysis data file format and a data file converter for its CE-based sequencer in hopes of enabling scientists and independent software vendors to develop bioinformatic applications that may “advance … data sharing” on its instruments, ABI said last week.
The move, which an ABI spokesperson called “a big shift” for the tool vendor, is aimed at creating “a more collaborative environment that provides an open and widely accessible pool of resources that will enable customers and ISVs to develop and bring to market innovative new applications that will allow the research community to find more answers, faster and more cost effectively,” Dennis Gilbert, chief scientific officer for ABI, said in a statement.
The ABI spokesperson said participating researchers have the choice of either disseminating their developments for free or licensing them on their own or with ABI.
“As demand increases for software applications that address the challenges associated with generating, analyzing and managing research data in emerging areas of life science research such as DNA fragment, RNA, and genomic copy number analysis, a more open and collaborative software development approach has become necessary,” ABI said in the statement. 
ABI has already forged an undisclosed number of alliances with ISVs either on its own or as part of its participation in the BioIT Alliance. One of these has been with Geospiza, with which it recently disclosed plans to integrate its Genemapper and SeqScape genetic-analysis tools with Geospiza’s Finch Suite data management system.
Separately, ABI and Geospiza said that they have expanded their product-development alliance to integrate platforms, and plan to launch a genetic analysis-integration tool this month.
The new product, called the Finch Suite Genetic Analysis Integration Tool, integrates ABI’s Genemapper and SeqScape genetic-analysis tools with Geospiza’s Finch Suite data management system.
The tool is expected to improve customers’ ability to scale and automate their information technology infrastructure, the companies said in a statement. It is currently being used by select customers and will be launched on Sept. 6. Geospiza will distribute and support the new tool.
The new collaboration expands on a similar deal announced in February 2005.

Celera, ABI Looking for Real Estate Buyers
Celera Genomics and Applied Biosystems are looking to sell some California real estate.
Celera Genomics is seeking to sell a 44,000-square-foot facility in South San Francisco that had been used for its scuttled small-molecule drug-discovery efforts, the company said in a recent US Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
The facility sits on land parent Applera leases under a long-term ground lease, the company said. This space, together with three leased facilities totaling 108,000 square feet, was part of Celera’s small-molecule drug-discovery and development business.
As of the end of June, Celera discontinued all internal research and development efforts in these programs and had vacated “substantially all” of the space in these facilities. Two of the leases expired in August and one will run out in December.
Meantime, ABI is looking to lease several facilities in an undisclosed city, and to sell a 15-acre plot of land it owns in Vacaville, the company said in the SEC filing.
ABI has also finished constructing the shell of a building that sits on an 80-acre parcel it owns in Pleasanton. This space is around 164,000 square feet and ABI said it intends to make improvements to the space as needed for itself or “possibly the operations of our other businesses.”
ABI also said it may build additional R&D, manufacturing, administrative, or other facilities on this land, up to a maximum of approximately 700,000 additional square feet, “as may be required for the future growth of our businesses.”

Lentigen, Dharmacon to Develop Lentiviral Expression Reagents
Lentigen and Fisher Scientific’s Dharmacon unit last week said they plan to develop and manufacture lentiviral expression reagents to deliver short hairpin RNA expression vectors into cells using RNA interference-mediated gene silencing.
As part of the alliance Dharmacon will design reagents combined with Lentigen's high-titer LentiMax vector system to develop the lentiviral particles. Terms of the deal call for Lentigen to manufacture and for Dharmacon to sell the resulting products.
Financial details were not disclosed.

Genetix to Acquire Applied Imaging for $18.3M
Genetix Group last week announced that it plans to acquire Applied Imaging, a maker of automated imaging and image-analysis systems, for $18.3 million in cash.
Genetix is based in New Milton, on the southern coast of England. The company designs, develops, and manufactures technologies involved in a wide array of cell screening, genomic, and proteomic applications.
Applied Imaging, based in San Jose, Calif., sells instruments for cytogenetic testing, among other applications. Genetix is hoping that the acquisition will expand its cell-imaging and -analysis play and boost its presence in the US.
“Genetix's cell biology instruments and reagents complement Applied Imaging's imaging and image analysis systems and will help both companies to expand in the US, Europe, and Asia," added Genetix CEO Mark Reid.
Terms of the deal call for Genetix to pay $3.06 per share to acquire all of Applied Imaging's common stock. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.