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Agilent, CombiMatrix, InBio, Mayo Clinic, Illumina, GE Healthcare, Affymetrix, Applied Biosystems, Tm Bioscience, OpGen, American Academy of Microbiology, Cepheid, Plasso Technology, B-Bridge International


Agilent to Launch CGH Microarray at LabAutomation Conference

Agilent will launch its Comparative Genomic Hybridization microarray product on Jan. 31, according to an e-mail sent by the company last week to publicize a related press briefing.

The product, which examines chromosomal changes related to cancer, will be introduced in conjunction with the LabAutomation conference in San Jose, Calif.

The CGH array uses total genomic DNA to detect chromosomal changes across the entire genome. In a release issued earlier in the month, Agilent said that it had modified its gene-expression profiling microarray technology to enable researchers to reliably identify single-copy deletions in chromosomes. Results of a study using the new CGH microarray were published in the Dec. 21, 2004, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Chris van Ingen, head of Agilent’s Life Sciences and Chemical Analysis business unit, said at the company’s annual analyst meeting in New York in December that the application of microarray-based CGH and location analysis will drive short-term growth for the life science segment of the LSCA unit. This group sells genomics and proteomics tools, including CGH- and location-analysis microarray products, as well as pharmaceutical analysis tools (see BAN 12/22/2004).

“The microarray market for gene-expression profiling and genotyping is still fluctuating in growth but the new applications will fuel growth in gene expression higher than 8 to 12 percent,” said van Ingen. “It’s still a small portion of our business.”

The company also plans to introduce a microarray wash station in “early summer,” according to the recent e-mail.

CombiMatrix Signs Up Distributor for Australia, New Zealand

CombiMatrix has signed up InBio to distribute its microarray products in Australia and New Zealand, the company’s parent, Acacia Research, announced last week.

InBio, the life science arm of BioInsight, will market, sell, and service CombiMatrix’s CustomArray products in these regions. The company, which focuses on distributing products for gene expression analysis, already represents Cartagen, Expresson Biosystems, Genovac, Point Technologies, Schott Nexterion, Synthecon, and V&P Scientific, according to its website.

Combimatrix plans to further expand its product distribution, both internationally and in the US, the company’s director of sales, Michael Tognotti, said in a statement.

Mayo Clinic Purchases Illumina’s BeadLab

Mayo Clinic will purchase a BeadLab genotyping system from Illumina to study cancer and other complex diseases, the company said last week.

Mayo researchers plan to use the station initially for genomic studies of cancer and various neuropsychiatric and cardiovascular disorders.

The system, which will be installed at Mayo’s Rochester, Minn., location and be able to produce one million genotypes per day, will be available to investigators at all three Mayo Clinic sites. The other two sites are located in Jacksonville, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz.

GE Healthcare’s Revenues Rise 30 Percent

GE Healthcare saw its revenues jump by almost 30 percent during the fourth quarter of 2004, contributing $4.3 billion, or about 10 percent, to GE’s total revenues. Healthcare’s revenues were $3.3 billion during the same quarter a year ago.

GE Healthcare’s profits also increased steeply, to $860 million, up from $572 million during the same quarter in 2003. These profits accounted for about 13 percent of GE’s total profits for the quarter.

GE said that orders for Healthcare products and services increased by 25 percent to $4.4 billion during the quarter, compared to the same period in 2003. The Biosciences unit, which used to be Amersham and was not part of GE in 2003, contributed $800 million to the overall orders — meaning that the former Amersham contributed approximately 90 percent to the 25 percent increase in orders.

For the last quarter of 2003, Amersham reported £451 million ($859 million) in sales.

Affy, Abi to Release Quarterly Financial Results This Week

Affymetrix and Applied Biosystems are scheduled to report their quarterly results this week.

Affy will release its fourth-quarter and fiscal 2004 results after the close of the market on Jan. 26. Analysts, on average, are predicting Q4 revenue of $103.8 million and fiscal 2004 revenue of $393.6 million for the micro-array market leader. Analysts also are prediciting earnings per share of $.37 for the quarter and $.70 for the 2004 year.

The firm posted third-quarter revenue of $79.9 million and earnings per share of $.25.

Applied Biosystems will report its second-quarter results at the opening of trade on Jan. 27. Analysts expect the firm to report revenue of $466 million and earnings per share of $.26.

Tm Bioscience to Raise CA$7.5 Million in Private Placement

Tm Bioscience expects to raise CA$7.5 million ($6.13 million) through a private placement of 3.5 million common shares with a syndicate of underwriters, the company said last week.

The Toronto-based genetic test developer said that it would sell the shares at a price of $2.15 each. Tm’s shares traded at CA$2.11 in Tuesday mid-day trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The syndicate of underwriters is led by Orion Securities and includes Dlouhy Merchant Group. Tm expects to close the private placement on Feb. 3.

OpGen Closes $5 Million Series B Financing

OpGen this week said that it had closed a series B financing round, raising a total of $5 million.

Investors in the financing included Mason Wells Biomedical Fund, Stonehenge Capital, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, according to the company.

OpGen said that the proceeds of the financing will be used to expand its marketing and sales infrastructure, conduct commercial service collaborations and contracts, and accelerate commercialization of its optical mapping genome comparison technology.

AAM Proposes Initiative to Boost Genome Annotation

The American Academy of Microbiology has issued a report proposing steps that can help overcome the challenge of annotating the numerous genomes that have been sequenced over the past decade, the group said this week.

According to the AAM, it is recommending that a centralized genome annotation initiative be established in the US. The proposed initiative would include “a centrally organized database of peer-reviewed, experimentally verified gene annotations tied to catalogs of genes that have yet to be annotated and known biochemical functions for which a gene has yet to be found,” the AAM said.

The AAM also said that a lack of available funding is a primary reason progress in genomic annotation has been slow, and that the annotation initiative provides flexible funding to support experiments in the field.

Cepheid to Install 300 More Anthrax- Detection Modules for US Mail Centers

Cepheid has received an order for 300 additional anthrax detection modules, to be used at mail processing centers of the United States Postal Service, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said this week.

The modules, based on Cepheid's GeneXpert PCR technology, will be used with Biohazard Detection Systems developed by Northrop Grumman's Security Systems to detect biological threats for the USPS. The new order is part of the second phase of the project, with modules being installed starting in April. At present, the company is shipping and installing 800 GeneXpert modules that were ordered for the first phase of the project.

Cepheid expects an additional order of 300 modules later this year. In total, detection systems are planned for 283 mail processing centers throughout the US.

Plasso Raises $2.8 Million in Private Financing

Plasso Technology has raised $2.8 million in a second round of financing from an undisclosed, Boston-based institutional investor, the firm announced last week.

The Sheffield, UK-based firm is developing a surface modficiation technology for application to consumables such as microarrays, lab-on-a-chip, sensors, and microtiter plates used in life science research and diagnostics.

Plasso was spun out of the University of Sheffield in 2003, and its previous investors include the White Rose Technology Seedcorn Fund, Sheffield University Enterprises, and East Hill Management.

B-bridge Becomes Distributor for German Resource Center in North America, Japan

B-Bridge International will distribute products and services from the German Resource Center for Genome Research, RZPD, in North American and Japan, the two organizations said last week.

Under the agreement, North American and Japanese researchers can order RZPD's offerings through B-Bridge. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company will also provide local support.

RZPD products include clones and clone collections, genomic and cDNA libraries, robotic services, protein profiling services, and DNA and protein arrays.

The Scan

Quality Improvement Study Compares Molecular Tumor Boards, Central Consensus Recommendations

With 50 simulated cancer cases, researchers in JAMA Network Open compared molecular tumor board recommendations with central consensus plans at a dozen centers in Japan.

Lupus Heterogeneity Highlighted With Single-Cell Transcriptomes

Using single-cell RNA sequencing, researchers in Nature Communications tracked down immune and non-immune cell differences between discoid lupus erythematosus and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Rare Disease Clues Gleaned From Mobile Element Insertions in Exome Sequences

With an approach called MELT, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics uncovered mobile element insertions in exomes from 3,232 individuals with or without developmental or neurological abnormalities.

Team Tracks Down Potential Blood Plasma Markers Linked to Heart Failure in Atrial Fibrillation Patients

Researchers in BMC Genomics found 10 differentially expressed proteins or metabolites that marked atrial fibrillation with heart failure cases.