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Affymetrix, USB, Ocimum Biosolutions, Gene Logic, Becton Dickinson, Accelr8 Technology, Ottawa Heart Institute

Affy to Acquire Reagent Supplier USB for $75M
Affymetrix said this week it will buy life sciences reagent supplier USB for $75 million in cash in a move that will enhance its product portfolio and enable development of new genetic analysis offerings.
The acquisition, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2008, "will greatly accelerate our ability to develop and commercialize more complete customer solutions," said Affy's president, Kevin King, in a statement.
USB, a privately held firm based in Cleveland, Ohio, sells three product lines: molecular biology enzymes and kits, biochemical reagents, and membrane protein research tools.
Affymetrix said it plans to use USB's assets to "accelerate the development and commercialization of new genetic analysis solutions" and to raise the value of its current product lines.
King said that the acquisition is a “strategic fit” for Affy’s growth strategy and that the company expects the deal to be modestly accretive to its 2008 earnings per share before transaction-related charges.
USB’s roots date back to the 1970s when it was known as United States Biochemical. After Amersham Life Science purchased United States Biochemical in 1993 and then merged with Pharmacia Biotech in 1997, USB’s management team bought the company’s three main product lines back from Amersham Pharmacia Biotech to create USB in 1998.
Affy said it will provide further details about the acquisition during its fourth-quarter 2007 conference call, which is scheduled for Jan. 31, 2008.
Affy’s last acquisition was in 2005 when it bought ParAllele Bioscience for $120 million (see BAN 10/26/2005).

Ocimum Gets Up to $17M Capital Investment, Closes Gene Logic Genomics Buy
Ocimum Biosolutions has landed an equity investment of up to $17 million and has closed its acquisition of Gene Logic’s genomics division, the company said this week.
The capital investment came from Kubera Cross Border Fund, as well as affiliates of Kubera Partners, which manages KUBC.
Ocimum said that the acquired genomics business will retain the Gene Logic name and will continue operating out of Gaithersburg, Md.
Ocimum agreed in October to pay $10 million for the Gene Logic genomics division, including $7 million up front and $3 million in 18 months (see BAN 10/23/2007).
Including the newly acquired Maryland office, Ocimum now has operations in Indianapolis, the Netherlands, and India, the firm said.

Becton Dickinson May Collaborate with Accelr8 on Rapid Dx Platform
Becton Dickinson has bought the rights to negotiate with Accelr8 Technology to develop its BACcel rapid diagnostic platform, Accelr8 said last week.
BD will pay Accelr8 $100,000 for the right to an exclusive negotiation period lasting through March 31, 2008, during which the companies will consider a development and commercialization program for the system. Such an agreement could include licensing rights, an equity investment, a joint development, or other type of development program, said Accelr8.
“BD could bring many resources to bear and speed the path to market, helping to further consolidate their leadership in managing infectious diseases,” Accelr8 President David Howson said in a statement.
Accelr8 believes the system can be used to target hospital-acquired infections and antibiotic-resistant pathogens including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, and other strains of Klebsiella and E. coli.
The hospital-acquired infections testing market is a key target for BD, which acquired HAI molecular diagnostics developer GeneOhm Sciences nearly two years ago for $230 million.
Howson also noted that the BACcel complements BD’s automated culturing systems and gene analysis offerings.

Over-Allotment Option Exercised in Affymetrix Senior Notes Offering; Stock Upgraded
Affymetrix last week said that it had raised an additional $41.25 million from the exercise of an over-allotment option connected to last month’s senior convertible notes offering (see BAN 11/13/2007).
Last month, the firm raised $275 million from the sale of 3.5 percent senior convertible notes due 2038. The notes will be convertible into Affymetrix common stock at a rate of 33.191 shares per $1,000 principal amount of notes, which it said is equivalent to around $30.12 a share.
Affy said that it plans to use the funds for working capital and for general corporate purposes, which may include funding operations, acquisitions, and capital expenditures.
In separate news last week, the firm’s stock was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” by investment bank UBS.

Ottawa Heart Institute Using Affymetrix's SNP Array 6.0 in Cardio Study
The University of Ottawa Heart Institute is using Affymetrix technology for whole-genome association studies of coronary artery disease, the company said last week.
The institute will use Affy’s Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0 over the next three years to screen the DNA of more than 12,000 people to identify associations that could help in the development of personalized treatments for CAD.
Affy said that earlier this year UOHI researchers used its microarray technology to identify a DNA sequence associated with a 40 percent greater risk of heart disease. The research found that individuals with two copies of this variant had a 30 percent to 40 percent higher risk of heart disease, and those with one copy had an increased risk of around 15 percent to 20 percent.

Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

The Scan

Science Confidence Boost

The New York Times reports that a new poll finds trust in science and scientists has increased with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Appeal and Funds

Some grant applications denied funding due to an Australian Research Council rule change have now been funded following an appeal, the Guardian reports.

Surveillance for Variants

Vox writes that the detection of the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant highlights the need for improved viral genomic surveillance.

Nature Papers Examine Taxonomic Gaps in Plant Sequencing, SARS-CoV-2-Human Interactome

In Nature this week: plant genome sequencing dominated by affluent countries, and more.