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Affymetrix, BioMerieux, Invitrogen, Dynal Biotech, ABI, Roche, India s Ministry of Science and Technology


Affymetrix Broadens Technology Deal
with BioMerieux to Cancer Diagnostics

Affymetrix has expanded an existing technology agreement with diagnostics company BioMerieux to include further disease areas, the companies said this week.

Under the agreement, BioMerieux, of Marcy L'Etoile, France, has non-exclusive rights to Affymetrix's GeneChip technology, including future improvements, to develop and market in vitro diagnostics for breast cancer. The company also has the option to broaden this agreement to other cancers.

Under an agreement from late 2003, BioMerieux has had the right to use Affy's GeneChip technology to develop tests for virulence factors, bacterial strain typing, sepsis diagnosis, hepatitis C, as well as respiratory and central nervous system infectious panels.

The companies did not disclose financial terms of the new agreement.

Invitrogen Closes $391M Dynal Acquisition

Invitrogen closed its acquisition of privately held Dynal Biotech in a deal valued at approximately $391 million, the company said last week.

The deal gives Invitrogen Dynal's Dynabeads magnetic separation-technology business and its HLA diagnostics segment. The acquisition, announced in February, moves Invitrogen for the first time into an FDA-regulated market through Dynal's in vitro diagnostics customers like Roche Diagnostics and Bayer.

Invitrogen bought Dynal, which has operations in China, from majority owner Nordic Capital of Sweden. The firm supplies magnetic particles to diagnostics manufacturers for use in high-throughput automated immunoassays as well as other diagnostic instrument systems. Nordic and Ratos purchased Dynal for $190 million in 2001.

ABI, Roche Win $15.6M More in Patent-Infringement
Damages from MJ Research; ABI Loses PCR Patent in Japan

A US court has ruled that MJ Research and two of its founders must pay Applied Biosystems and Roche Molecular Systems an additional $15.6 million in damages for infringing several PCR-related patents, ABI said this week. In addition, ABI reported that it has lost its real-time PCR patent in Japan.

The US District Court in New Haven, Conn., increased damages awarded to ABI and Roche in their PCR patent-infringement suit against MJ Research and Michael and John Finney, two company founders, to approximately $35.4 million plus attorneys' fees. A year ago, a court jury had awarded the companies $19.8 million in damages.

The judge also dismissed all of MJ Research's antitrust counterclaims against ABI and Roche. ABI has filed for an injunction against further infringement by MJ Research, which was acquired by Bio-Rad Laboratories last summer after MJ had declared bankruptcy in March.

Bio-Rad said in August that it has acquired MJ Research for $32 million in cash "and the assumption of certain liabilities of those companies, including liabilities related to certain patent infringement litigation to which MJ Research is a party, plus a cash earn-out based on the outcome of such litigation."

Applera, ABI's parent, and Roche originally filed the suit in 1998. MJ Research counterclaimed that ABI licensed and enforced its patents through anticompetitive conduct.

ABI also said this week that the Japanese Patent Office has held invalid Applera's Japanese patent No. 3136129, which covers real-time PCR technology. Applera said it intends to appeal the decision. The European Patent Office reached a similar verdict on the equivalent patents in Europe in December, based on prior art. ABI's US patent on real-time PCR technology is still valid.

Hungry for More Investment, India's Ministry of
Science and Technology Proposes Biotech Strategy

India's government has proposed establishing a National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority to oversee market clearance for all biotechnology products as part of a broad biotech draft strategy, the Ministry of Science and Technology said last week.

The Ministry also suggests 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.

According to the Ministry, the government's draft strategy "aims to bring clarity in regulatory issues, provide an action plan for human resource development and suggest measures for promotion of innovation. It has also mentioned specific measures for promoting biotechnology industries and attracting investment." The strategy also calls for building new centers of excellence in the biotechnology field.

The strategy, said the ministry, proposes that all biotechnology industries be made exempt from the requirement of compulsory licensing and "allowing foreign direct investment up to 100 percent on automatic route." It also proposes the continuation of all existing fiscal incentives for biotech industries up to 2010. "The strategy aims at an annual turnover of $5 billion and creation of 1 million jobs by 2010," the ministry said.

The strategy also proposes the establishment of a national task force to "formulate model undergraduate and post-graduate curricula in life sciences and biotechnology," the Ministry said.

The strategy has been opened for six weeks for public debate.

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.