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ABI, Reaction Biology, ExonHit Therapeutics, Kreatech, Ambion


ABI to Lay Off 250 Staffers in R&D,
Marketing, Operations; Plans to Hire Elsewhere

Applied Biosystems plans to lay off around 250 employees and to close undisclosed facilities — "primarily" referring to R&D, marketing, and operations.

The move, part of ABI's ongoing reorganization, will cost the company between $20 million to $22 million in a pre-tax charge in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005 to cover costs of employee severance and "facilities closure," ABI said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear when the lay-offs would take place. ABI's fourth quarter ends June 30.

ABI said the move will help the company "rebalance" its workforce. As such, ABI said it will hire additional staffers "in other functional areas including field sales and support, manufacturing quality, and advanced research" during fiscal 2006.

"These adjustments are in keeping with our program to enhance Applied Biosystems' performance and should better align our resources with the needs of our customers," said ABI president Catherine Burzik. "We expect these actions, which include augmenting and upgrading of skills in critical functions, will support higher levels of sales over time. ... "

Messages left with ABI were not returned by press time.

Reaction Biology Wins SBIR Grant for
Microarray-Based Kinase Screening

Reaction Biology has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop its microarray kinase screening technology for testing compounds in nanoliter reactions, the company said last week.

According to Reaction Biology, the grant funds the use of its DiscoveryDot microarray technology for high-throughput kinase screening.

RBC also said that it eventually plans to expand its assay range across the human kinome.

The company did not disclose the amount of the award, but an NIH database lists a grant for Reaction Biology, entitled, "Kinome Drug Bioassay Platform," in the amount of $100,000.

ExonHit Therapeutics Awarded €50,000
Paris BioTeam Business Prize

ExonHit Therapeutics was awarded the first annual Paris BioTeam Business Prize for its collaboration with Agilent Technologies at the EuroBiotech forum held in Paris earlier this month. The prize, a €50,000 ($67,000) post-doctoral grant, was presented at the BIO 2005 conference in Philadelphia last week, the company said.

Paris-based ExonHit, which runs its SpliceArray service out of its Gaithersburg, Md., office, was recognized as having the "strongest collaboration" between a French company and a North American biotechnology company.

"This award recognizes the strengths between the French genomic industry and innovators in Northern California," Florence Parly, chairman of the Paris Regional Development Agency, said in a statement.

Agilent Technologies has provided the platform for ExonHit's splice content, as well as the reagents, instruments, software and technical support for the service, the company said.

Kreatech, Ambion Combine Platforms in New Gene-Expression Kit

Kreatech Biotechnology will combine Ambion's MessageAmpTM II aRNA-amplification system with its own Universal Linkage labeling technology as part of a kit for gene-expression analysis, the company said this week.

The kit will include a variety of fluorescent dyes, including GE Healthcare's CyDyes, Perkin Elmer's Cyanine Dyes, and Dyomics' DY Dyes. Kreatech will also enclose a biotin labeling system that is suited for Affymetrix's GeneChips. Kreatech currently commercializes labeling kits for aRNA labeling and arrayCGH labeling.

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.