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Affymetrix, GE Healthcare, Whitehead, Whatman/Schleicher & Schuell, Sequenom, Reaction Biology, ABI


Affymetrix Appeals EPO Decision to Revoke Patent

Affy lawyers have filed an appeal with the European Patent Office, two months after the body handed down its final decision to revoke one of the company's patents.

Epping, UK-based patent and trademark attorneys HLBBshaw — formerly Hepworth, Lawrence, Bryer, and Bizley — filed the appeal with the EPO on July 27, requesting "that the decision [to revoke] be set aside and the patent maintained" and requesting "oral proceedings" in case the EPO's Technical Board of Appeals contemplates affirming the revocation, according to the notice.

The final decision in the patent case, concerning European Patent No. 0 834 576, "Detection of Nucleic Acid Sequences," was handed down by the Division on May 27, three months after the Munich-based EPO's Opposition rendered its interlocutory decision in February.

Affymetrix rivals PamGene, CombiMatrix, Applera, Abbott Laboratories, and others filed opposition to the patent shortly after it was published in the EPO register in January 2002. The opposition had argued that Affy's method for detecting nucleic acid sequences was "commonplace in the art" and "neither innovative nor unique" (see BAN 3/9/2005).

"The OD is of the opinion that none of the main request meets the requirements of the European Patent Commission," the Opposition Division stated in its final decision in May, referencing EPC Article 100, which states a patent may be revoked if "it does not disclose the invention in a manner sufficiently clear and complete for it to be carried out by a person skilled in the art."

GE Healthcare's CodeLink Sales, Usage Up in Latin American Market

Just a few weeks after Affymetrix and Applied Biosystems opened up units at Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Medicina Genómica in Mexico City as part of a large-scale genotyping project aimed at isolating biomarkers for widely-suffered diseases in the Mexican population, a GE Healthcare representative told BioArray News that it has seen its market grow in Latin America over the past year.

"Sales this year-to-date are showing a growth of around 120% over the same period for 2004," GE Healthcare spokesperson Kristin Silady said via e-mail.

According to Silady, GE Healthcare has a "sales team and field application specialists to give support to customers with great results reported by customers in the region," some of whom include Albert Einstein Hospital, the Human Genome Studies Centre, and the São Paulo Federal University, all located in São Paulo, Brazil.

Silady said that CodeLink customers in São Paulo include the Blood Centre at São Paulo University, Ribeirão Preto, the Chemistry Institute at São Paulo University, the São Paulo Medicine Faculty, and the Hart Institute.

Other CodeLink users in the region include the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil, and Hospital de Niños of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Whitehead Licenses Reverse Transfection Patent Rights to Corning

The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research has granted Corning Life Sciences a license for the patent rights to its reverse transfection technology, Corning said last week.

Corning will pair the microarray-based method for the functional analysis in mammalian cells of many genes in parallel with other technology to enhance its molecular and cell culture applications.

A spokesperson for the Whitehead said the technology could be useful in drug screening and development, though a representative from Corning declined to comment on possible future applications.

Financial details were not discussed.

Whatman/Schleicher & Schuell and IMM to Launch Protein Chip IVD

Protein array slide manufacturer Whatman/Schleicher & Schuell will partner with Privates Institut f r Immunologie und Molekulargenetik to develop and commercialize a protein biochip for autoimmune disease diagnosis, the company said this week.

According to the agreement between the two parties, IIM, a German laboratory that specializes in autoimmune and other clinical diagnostic assays, will be using Whatman/Schleicher & Schuell's nitrocellulose-coated FAST slides for the protein microarray assay.

IIM said in a statement that the new "chip will enable our laboratories to measure the presence of autoantibodies to various autoantigens associated with different collagenosis and vasculititis-related autoimmune diseases from a single serum sample."

According to Whatman/Schleicher & Schuell, the chip is expected to launch by the end of this year and is currently being validated to make sure it meets CE guidelines for in vitro diagnostics.

Sequenom Reports Mild Uptick in Q2 Revenues, Narrowed Losses on Decreased R&D Costs

Sequenom reported this week a slight increase in second-quarter revenues as losses slid sharply on lower costs.

The company reported a rise in second-quarter revenues to $6.2 million, versus $6 million in the year-ago quarter, an increase the company attributed to both the addition of new customers and the upgrading of the firm's analysis systems by existing customers.

Sequenom's research and development spending dropped to about $3 million in the quarter, from $5.7 million a year earlier.

The company posted a net loss of $6 million, or $.15 per share, versus a year-ago loss of $9.8 million, or $.25 per share.

As of June 30, Sequenom had cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments, and restricted cash totaling $25.4 million.

Reaction Biology Wins $750K SBIR Grant to Apply Array Tech to Drug Discovery

Reaction Biology has been awarded a $750,000 Phase II SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health to apply its new DiscoveryDot microarray technology for drug discovery, the company said this week.

The grant, from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, will fund the use of the technology for high throughput screening of caspases and other proteases, Reaction Biology said.

The company said its DiscoveryDot technology can screen up to 6,600 individual reactions. The one-nanoliter reaction volume used by the company "represents 1/10,000 the volume of conventional screening systems," Reaction Biology said.

ABI's Revenues Grow 4 Percent in Q4 FY '05; Core PCR, Mass Spec Slides

Applied Biosystems last month reported increased revenues and earnings for its fourth quarter of fiscal year 2005, which ended June 30.

Revenues for the quarter totaled $478.5 million, up 4 percent over the prior year's revenues of $460.5 million. Broken down by ABI's five product categories, DNA sequencing revenues were $143 million, up 2 percent over last year's quarter; real-time PCR/applied genomics revenues were $140 million, up 16 percent; mass spectrometry revenues were $119 million, down 1 percent; core PCR and DNA synthesis revenues were $46 million, down 7 percent; and revenues from other product lines were $31 million, up 1 percent.

Research and development costs totaled $48.3 million, down from $51.3 million during the year-ago quarter. This decline was due primarily to savings from the integration of the MALDI-TOF product line into the ABI/MDS Sciex Instruments joint venture.

ABI's net income for the fourth fiscal quarter was $71.6 million, or $.35 per share, up from $51.1 million, or $.25 per share, for the year-ago quarter. The current quarter's income includes $21.2 million in tax benefits and reduced court settlement costs.

As of June 30, ABI had $756 million in cash resources.

In addition to reporting its earnings, the company said that its board of directors has authorized the repurchase of up to 10 percent of the outstanding shares of Applera-ABI common stock.

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.