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Affymetrix, Roche, Idaho Technology, Genomic Tool, ABI, Stanford University, Burrill & Company, Perlegen, Nanogen, TIGR, Whatman Schleicher & Schuell


Affymetrix Shares Rise on Q4 Revenue Increase

Shares in Affymetrix closed up 4.9 percent last Wednesday after the company said sales during the fourth quarter of 2004 increased 17 percent to more than $100 million.

Affymetrix said that product-related revenue was a record for the company. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based firm reported third-quarter revenue of $79.9 million, a 4.9 percent increase over revenue of $76.2 million in the third quarter of 2003.

The microarray market leader also said it has $10 million worth of orders for products it plans to release within the next six months, including new SNP-genotyping arrays and automated instrumentation.

Affy’s shares climbed $1.68 to close at $35.95 on the Nasdaq market, after trading as high as $37.24 on Wednesday morning. Since then its shares have risen slightly higher, closing at $36.21 on Monday.

The company will release its formal financial results on Jan. 26 after the stock market closes.

Roche Grants PCR License to Idaho Technology

Idaho Technology last week said that it had licensed non-exclusive worldwide access to Roche’s PCR patents.

The Salt Lake City-based firm said the agreement provides it with rights to use the technology in in vitro diagnostic products. Terms of the licensing pact were not disclosed.

Idaho Technology makes instruments for pathogen detection, reagents, and thermocyclers, including the LightCycler, which Roche markets under an agreement signed between the firms in 1997.

The privately held firm also announced that it is registered with the US Food and Drug Administration to develop, manufacture, and sell analyte-specific reagents for molecular diagnostic purposes.

Affymetrix Non-Employee Directors Get 50 Percent Raise

Non-employee directors of Affymetrix will get a 50-percent increase in the annual fee the company pays them for their services, Affymetrix said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week.

The six non-employee members will receive $30,000 a year, up from $20,000, according to the filing.

The company’s non-employee directors are: Susan Desmond-Hellmann, president of product development at Genentech; John Diekman, managing partner of 5AM Ventures; Vernon Loucks, chairman of the Athena Group; David Singer, chairman of Oscient Pharmaceuticals; and John Young, retired president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

Genomic Tool, Dx Stocks Outperform Pharma and Biotech In December

Shares in genomic-based diagnostics and tools companies outperformed big drug makers and firms in other healthcare industry segments, according to a Pacific Growth Equities report analyzing stocks in the healthcare industry.

The weighted average total return of 109 diagnostic- and tool-company stocks analyzed by the investment bank increased 9.44 percent in December, compared with 7.66 percent for 151 medical technology stocks; 7.54 percent for 303 drugs stocks; 6.37 percent for nine “ancillary” stocks; and 5.65 percent for 71 services stocks.

Diagnostics and tools stocks included companies such as Applied Biosystems, whose shares increased 2 percent during the month; Cepheid, whose shares increased 7.93 percent; Charles River Labs, whose shares increased 1.58 percent; Ciphergen, whose shares increased 33.54 percent; Harvard Biosciences, whose shares increased 16.92 percent; Illumina, whose shares increased 24.74 percent; Invitrogen, whose shares increased 10.96 percent; Stratagene, whose shares increased 5.56 percent; and Third Wave Tech, whose shares increased 6.7 percent.

ABI Expands Biomarker pact With Stanford, Univ. of Miami to Include TaqMan Array

Applied Biosystems has expanded an ongoing collaboration with researchers at Stanford University and the University of Miami to further study lymphoma biomarkers, the company said this week.

In the new studies, the scientists will use ABI’s TaqMan Low Density Array, a microfluidic card for real-time PCR, to validate the predictive value of six gene-expression based markers associated with treatment response and survival in diffuse large B cell lymphoma, the most common form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The initial study was published last April in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Prediction of survival in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma based on the expression of six genes.” For this study, the researchers used a combination of microarrays, bioinformatics, real-time PCR, and TaqMan gene expression assays, ABI said.

Tool companies to Benefit from Burrill’s New Life Sciences Venture Capital Fund

Burrill & Company, a San Francisco-based life sciences merchant bank, is launching a $300-million to $500-million venture capital fund dedicated to biotechnology, personalized medicine, new diagnostics, and devices.

“We’re looking at tools and technologies that will move us further and faster towards personalized and predictive medicine,” Steven Burrill, CEO of the company, told BioArray News’ sister publication GenomeWeb News last week. “Biomarkers would be a real important part of that, as well as technology that will allow you to walk into a lab and get your genome sequenced.”

According to Burrill, the new fund, called the Burrill Life Sciences Capital Fund III, will invest in 20 to 25 companies worldwide at various stages of development, from seed and early stage to mezzanine levels. Each company will receive about $20 million in funding.

Burrill & Company currently has $500 million under management. BLSCF III is Burrill’s third generation of venture funds. First-generation funds, established in 1998, include a human health-care-focused fund called the Burrill Biotechnology Capital Fund, the Burrill Agbio Capital Fund, and the Burrill Nutraceuticals Capital Fund.

The firm’s second-generation funds, established in 2002, include the $211 million Burrill Life Sciences Capital fund.

Perlegen Pens Pharmacogenomics Deal with J&J Company

Perlegen Sciences will genotype patients for Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development to find genetic markers indicating response to an undisclosed drug, the company said this week.

Under the agreement, Perlegen will determine SNPs in several hundred patients and correlate them with therapeutic response to the drug. The aim is to predict the patient population that responds best to the agent.

The two parties did not disclose the terms of the collaboration. J&JPRD is a Johnson & Johnson company.

Nanogen Shares Rise on Patent News

Nanogen shares rose 7.32 percent on Thursday after the company said it won a US patent covering its chip technology.

The shares closed at $6.74 in heavy trade on the Nasdaq, after touching a high of $6.90 during the day. The firm’s shares have since receded and closed at $6.32 on Monday.

The patent, No. 6,838,053, is entitled “Platinum silicide permeation layer device with microlocations” and covers methods of producing a covalently bonded permeation layer on a microchip, and will be used in the analysis of biological molecules (see BAN 1/5/2005).

It relates to “chemistries used to create the permeation layer, which allows electrochemical products generated at the electrode surface to travel through the layer and into the solution immediately above the electrodes,” according to a Nanogen statement.

TIGR-Led Team Sequences Dechlorinating Bacterium

A multi-institutional team has sequenced the genome of Dehalococcoides ethenogenes, a bacterium that is capable of metabolizing certain chlorinated solvents and pollutants, according to the Institute for Genomic Research, which led the effort.

D. ethenogenes is the only known microorganism that can dechlorinate the common pollutants tetracholoroethylene and trichloroethylene — a quality that has made it useful in at least 17 bioremediation sites in the United States, TIGR said.

An analysis of the genome was published in the Jan. 7 issue of Science.

Whatman Schleicher & Schuell to Distribute Pepscan Systems’ Peptide Array

Whatman Schleicher & Schuell will distribute Pepscan Systems' PepChip kinase substrate array products and services, the companies said this week.

Whatman, currently based in Keene, NH, will distribute the peptide arrays in both the US and Europe, a company spokesperson said. Pepscan is based in The Netherlands.

The PepChip array is a high-density peptide array that enables screening of kinase activity in complex mixtures, substrate profiling of known and unknown kinases, and specificity testing of kinase inhibitors. The chip allows researchers to profile over 80 percent of the human kinome, the companies said.

The Scan

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.

EHR Quality Improvement Study Detects Demographic-Related Deficiencies in Cancer Family History Data

In a retrospective analysis in JAMA Network Open, researchers find that sex, ethnicity, language, and other features coincide with the quality of cancer family history information in a patient's record.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Gut Microbiome Community Structure Gradient in Meta-Analysis

Bringing together data from prior studies, researchers in Genome Biology track down microbial taxa and a population structure gradient with ties to ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.