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Affymetrix, ABI, Applera, Agilent, Quark Biotech, Anderson Cancer Center, Solexa

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Affymetrix Reports 13-Percent Gain in Q1 Revenues

Affymetrix last week reported a 13-percent gain in total first-quarter revenues as a net loss turned into a profit.

Total receipts for the three months ended March 31 increased to $88.6 million from $78.6 million year over year.

R&D spending at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based microarray seller slid 1 percent to $17.1 million from $17.3 in the year-ago quarter.

As a result, net income for the quarter was $16.2 million, or $.26 per basic share, compared to a net loss of $1.8 million, or $.03 per basic share, in the year-ago quarter.

Affymetrix reaffirmed that it expects to generate around $390 million in product-related revenue in 2005 and said second-quarter receipts should come in at around $87 million, a 9-percent increase over the same period in 2004.

Affymetrix had $63 million cash and cash equivalents on hand as of March 31.


ABI Posts Weak Q3 Revenue Growth; Remains 'Concerned' About Sequencing Business

Applied Biosystems this week said that organic fiscal third-quarter revenue inched up 1 percent as sales in DNA sequencing and RT-PCR applied genomics increased and mass-spec and core PCR/DNA synthesis receipts declined.

Total revenues for the three months ended March 31 increased to $455 million from $440 million in the year-ago quarter. Contributing 2 percent to this increase were "favorable foreign currency affects," which gave ABI a 3-percent jump in total third-quarter revenues, the company said.

Broken down by division, ABI said year-over-year revenue from its DNA sequencing business increased 3 percent to $141 million, and receipts from RT-PCR/applied genomics swelled 20 percent to $134 million.

However, year-over-year revenue from its mass spectrometry segment declined 4 percent to $105 million, and receipts from ABI's core PCR and DNA-synthesis unit slid 1 percent to $50 million. Revenue from all other product lines fell 17 percent to $26 million.

ABI said R&D spending decreased in the third quarter to $51 million from $52 million year over year.

Net income in the period grew to $56 million, or $.28 per basic share, from $46 million, or $.23 per basic share, year over year.

Despite the strong earnings growth, CEO Tony White cautioned in a statement that "due to the constrained funding environment, we remain cautious." He said ABI President Cathy Burzik is "focused on new initiatives to drive long-term revenue growth."

Looking ahead, ABI said revenue for fiscal 2005 will grow in the "low-single-digits" over fiscal 2004. The company said receipts from its RT-PCR/applied genomics and mass spectrometry segments "are expected to increase" over fiscal 2004, while revenues from DNA sequencing, core PCR and DNA synthesis, and other product lines "are expected to decline."


Applera Expands Access to Credit to $200M and Higher

Applera has entered into a five-year $200 million unsecured credit agreement with a group of lenders, according to an SEC document the company filed last week.

The new agreement replaces an existing $50 million revolving credit agreement that was scheduled to mature on April 20, the company said in the filing. The new credit facility, which its subsidiary Applied Biosystems will use for general corporate purposes, can increase to $250 million as long as the company maintains a consolidated net worth of at least $900 million and a debt-to-capitalization ratio of no more than .50 to 1.00, according to the document.

Applera is currently debt-free and holds some $650 million in cash.


Agilent to Begin Selling its Microarray Products in India

Agilent Technologies will begin distributing its microarray products to India, expanding its life-sciences business efforts there from its sales base of chemical and pharmaceutical QA/QC equipment, the company said last week.

The announcement follows the release for comment of India's draft biotechnology strategy earlier this month. In that strategy, India's government proposed establishing a National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority to oversee market clearance for all biotechnology products, and suggested that priority be given to research in molecular and cellular biology, neuroscience, molecular genetics, transplantation biology, genomics, proteomics, systems biology, RNA interference, and stem-cell research.

Agilent, which is considered by some observers to be the largest biotechnology equipment supplier in India, said the country's recent biotech positioning can fuel demand for molecular biology tools, including its microarrays.

"Growth in sectors like biopharmaceuticals, contract research bioservices, agriculture, genetic engineering, and molecular medicine will drive growth for analytical instrumentation," Sanjeev Dhar, who was named Agilent's India manager in January, said in a statement.

See BioCommerce Week, BioArray News' sister publication, for an interview with Dhar and an article on India's molecular-biology tools market.


Agilent Releases Probe Sequence, Annotation Information for Its Expression Microarrays

Agilent Technologies last week released for the first time the chip design, probe sequence, and annotation information for all of its microarrays, the Palo Alto, Calif. -based company said.

Agilent said the information would improve cross-laboratory experimental research and cross-platform data comparison. The announcement accompanied the public release of microarray experimental data by the National Toxicology Program.

Icoria, under its contract with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, has been using Agilent microarrays to perform thousands of experiments to profile chemical effects on biological systems, and has created a vast resource of gene-expression responses to chemical toxicants, according to Agilent.

The data will eventually be made available through the NIEHS National Center of Toxicogenomics' Chemical Effects on Biological Systems database, currently under development.

The microarray design and probe sequence information is available on Agilent's eArray web portal at earray.chem.agilent.com, where customers can examine the content of Agilent-manufactured commercial microarrays and design their own custom microarrays, Agilent said.


Quark Biotech Becomes Certified Agilent Microarray Service Provider

Quark Biotech has become a certified microarray service provider for Agilent Technologies' platform, Quark said last week.

Quark's services will include extracting and labeling RNA samples using Agilent's gene-expression platform for hybridization and data analysis.


Anderson Cancer Center Streamlines Paperwork with EE-LIMS from Stone Bond Technologies

Stone Bond Technologies last week announced that the University of Texas' M D Anderson Cancer Center's Microarray Core Facility had purchased its EE-Laboratory Information Management System software.

The system will upgrade the existing paper-based workflow at the core facility to a fully automated laboratory request management system.

The core facility performs DNA and mRNA analyses for researchers working on identifying genetic variations associated with disease, discovering new drug targets, and other projects, Stone Bond said.

Mini Kapoor, the manager of the core lab at Anderson, said that, by using Stone Bond's EE-LIMS, the lab would be able to offer facility researchers, administrators, and lab technicians the ability to query, analyze, and manage technical data from sample submission to delivery of analysis results.

"Our goal is to improve the timeliness and accuracy of both technical and administrative data in the lab," Kapoor said.


Affymetrix Licenses Caliper's Microfluidics Technology

Caliper Life Sciences has licensed an undisclosed number of its microfluidics patents to Affymetrix for use in microarray technology, the companies said this week.

Under the non-exclusive agreement, Affymetrix may use the technology in its GeneChip products for research, diagnostics, and applied genomics applications in exchange for an upfront licensing fee and royalties on future products. The license excludes use of the technology to separate nucleic acids as a quality control step.

This is Caliper's second licensing deal since it began to outlicense its intellectual property on microfluidics. In January, Predicant Biosciences licensed Caliper's technology for use in the analysis of proteins by mass spectrometry.


Solexa Secures $32.5M Private-Equity Financing

Solexa last week announced it had secured $32.5 million in private-equity financing led by ValueAct Capital of San Francisco.

Solexa said it intends to use the cash to develop and launch its sequencing-by-synthesis instrument, and to repay a loan to Silicon Valley Bank.

All of Solexa's previous venture capital investors, including funds affiliated with Abingworth Management, Amadeus Capital Partners, Oxford Bioscience Partners, and SV Life Sciences, will be investing a total of approximately $10.8 million in the financing at the second closing of the financing and have entered into agreements with Solexa to vote in favor of the financing at the 2005 annual meeting, the company said.

Mason Morfit, a partner with ValueAct Capital, which once held 22 percent of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, will join Solexa's board (see People).

The terms of the financing call for Solexa to sell approximately 8.1 million shares of common stock at $4 per share. Solexa will then issue warrants to purchase approximately 4.1 million shares at $5 apiece. Approximately 2.1 million shares of common stock and approximately 1.1 million warrants will be issued in a closing expected later this month.

The balance of approximately 6 million shares of common stock and warrants to purchase approximately 3 million shares of common stock will be issued on the same terms in a second closing subject to stockholder approval at the 2005 annual meeting.

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.