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Applied Biosystems, Affymetrix, ParAllele, Cambridge University, BioTrove, GenTel BioSurfaces, DNA Chip Research, Bio Matrix Research, Enzo Biochem, Genomas, Illumina


Applied Biosystems To Cut 145 jobs In Restructuring; Microarrays To Be Part Of Molecular Biology Division

Applied Biosystems will eliminate approximately 145 jobs — about 3.5 percent of its 4,400-person workforce — as part of a structural reorganization plan, the company disclosed in a July 13 US Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

A majority of the layoffs are in R&D, with additional jobs being cut in areas such as sales, manufacturing, and product management, the company said. ABI also said that its Foster City, Calif., headquarters location would be most affected.

The layoffs commenced with the July 1 start of ABI’s fiscal year 2005, and are related to a structural reorganization in which the company is creating four new business divisions: molecular biology; proteomics and small molecules; applied markets; and service. Each of these divisions will have a dedicated president, product development and advanced manufacturing resources, and product line and marketing management, ABI said.

The microarray operations of the firm will be part of the molecular biology division. That division will be led on an interim basis by Executive Vice President Catherine Burzik while the firm searches for a division president.

Lori Murray, an ABI spokesperson, said company officials could not discuss plans for the four divisions or how the restructuring would affect certain products. She cited a “quiet period” leading up to ABI’s earnings release, which is scheduled for July 28.

Affymetrix Teams With TGen, NAAR On Autism Research Project

Affymetrix will collaborate with the National Alliance for Autism Research and the Translational Genomics Research Institute on the first phase of a newly launched study looking for the genes associated with autism.

The project, called the NAAR Autism Genome Project, calls for more than 170 genetics researchers over the next six months to collaborate on scanning the human genome for the genetic roots of autism.

The first phase of the effort, which is already underway, involves two scans of the genome to be conducted by TGen using Affymetrix hardware and equipment, including the GeneChip microarray platform, said NAAR. After this first phase is completed, researchers will conduct fine mapping of the chromosomal intervals identified by the scans, followed by further examination of genetic mutations.

The NAAR Autism Genome Project includes a second scan based on microsatellite technology that will be conducted by the Center for Inherited Disease Research, which is a genotyping core facility associated with the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Affymetrix, ParAllele To Work With Cambridge University On Genotyping Diabetes Patients

A team of researchers at Cambridge University will use technology from Affymetrix and ParAllele in a study that will eventually genotype 20,000 type 1 diabetes patients, the companies announced.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation/Wellcome Trust Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory at Cambridge will initially use Affy’s GeneChip Tag Arrays and ParAllele’s MegAllele genotyping reagents to compare genotypes between 1,000 control samples and 1,000 diabetic samples. The researchers will use ParAllele’s standard panel of 10,000 non-synonymous SNPs for this phase of the study.

Eventually, the project will analyze more than 20,000 DNA samples that have already been collected from diabetes patients and their relatives, the companies said.

The project is the first that Affymetrix and ParAllele have jointly signed since they entered into a distribution pact in May.

BioTrove Gets Exclusive License To Stanford Microarray Patent

BioTrove has acquired an exclusive license from Stanford University for patent applications covering the use of a through-hole structured microarray to perform PCR.

Woburn, Mass.-based BioTrove also said it has received a patent on a novel method using the comp-any’s proprietary OpenArray platform for high-density cell assay and culture. BioTrove is commercializing the platform, a nanofluidic system for massively parallel analysis using Thru-Hole technology, for use by life science researchers.

The patent covers an innovative application of the OpenArray technology that allows for the maintenance and growth of cells in a microfluidic environment, with potential application in cell-based assays.

GenTel gets $900,000 in NIH, NSF Grants This Year

GenTel BioSurfaces has won five SBIR grants from NIH and NSF this year, totaling $900,000, the Madison, Wis.-based company announced.

Among its projects, GenTel received funding for developing a chip-based test kit for diagnosing allergy.

The company also said it plans to launch a protein array kit this fall.

GenTel is a spin-off company from the University of Wisconsin-Madison founded in 2000. The company, which currently has ten employees, has been developing biochips for life sciences, pharmaceutical, and diagnostics research (see Lab Report on page 6 for more on GenTel).

DNA Chip Research, Bio Matrix Partner On Gene Expression Profiling Analysis

Two Japanese firms, DNA Chip Research and Bio Matrix Research, have formed a partnership to market gene expression profiling analysis using DNA Chip Research’s AceGene microarray, according to the Japan Corporate News Network.

The AceGene oligo DNA chip was jointly developed by DNA Chip Research and HitachiSoft, with the oligo and microarray design technology coming from Germany’s MWG Biotech.

Enzo To Supply GlaxoSmithKline With DNA/RNA Labeling, Detection Technology

Enzo Biochem’s Enzo Life Sciences unit will supply British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline with RNA/DNA labeling, detection, and amplification technology and products. The pact includes a non-exclusive license to certain of Enzo’s patents.

Genomas, Illumina Partner On Physiogenomics Of Metabolic Syndrome

Hartford, Conn.-based Genomas said that it signed an agreement to use Illumina’s BeadStation 500GX genotyping system to discover diagnostic markers of metabolic syndrome.

Genomas plans to create gene marker panels of single nucleotide polymorphisms and haplotypes for metabolic syndrome using its PhysioGenomics systems biology platform.

San Diego-based Illumina will support Genomas’ discovery process and facilitate the validation of the metabolic syndrome gene marker panels. Following validation, the SNP and haplotype patents may become available to Illumina customers as products under a royalty-bearing license.

Illumina Posts 140 percent Revenue Gain In Second Quarter

Illumina has reported second-quarter revenues of $11.5 million, a 140 percent increase over revenues of $4.8 million reported for the second quarter of 2003.

Product revenue for the quarter ended June 27, 2004, was $9 million, a $6.3 million gain over product revenue in the second quarter of 2003. The San Diego-based microarray manufacturer posted a net loss of $3.5 million, or $.10 per share, significantly lower than the reported net loss of $8.6 million, or $.27 per share, for the second quarter a year ago.

Among the firm’s accomplishments during the second quarter was the installation at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine of a production-scale SNP genotyping BeadLab capable of generating over 800,000 genotypes a day. The firm also shipped 12 of its benchtop BeadStation systems to core labs and researchers for moderate-throughput genomics applications.

Illumina also raised $30.7 million in a common stock offering to individual investors in May. In the offering, the company sold approximately 4.5 million shares at a price of $6.75 per share to a group of institutional investors.

The firm has a major product roll-out planned for the third quarter as it launches its Sentrix BeadChips for large-scale gene expression experiments.

Illumina said it had cash and investments of $66.2 million as of the end of the second quarter.

The Scan

Drug Response Variants May Be Distinct in Somatic, Germline Samples

Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.

Breast Cancer Risk Gene Candidates Found by Multi-Ancestry Low-Frequency Variant Analysis

Researchers narrowed in on new and known risk gene candidates with variant profiles for almost 83,500 individuals with breast cancer and 59,199 unaffected controls in Genome Medicine.

Health-Related Quality of Life Gets Boost After Microbiome-Based Treatment for Recurrent C. Diff

A secondary analysis of Phase 3 clinical trial data in JAMA Network Open suggests an investigational oral microbiome-based drug may lead to enhanced quality of life measures.

Study Follows Consequences of Early Confirmatory Trials for Accelerated Approval Indications

Time to traditional approval or withdrawal was shorter when confirmatory trials started prior to accelerated approval, though overall regulatory outcomes remained similar, a JAMA study finds.