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Applied Biosystems, MWG Biotech, Affymetrix, Genomas, Genomic Health, Nanogen, Epoch Biosciences, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, ENCODE


Mass Spec, RT-PCR Drive ABI’s Q1 Revenues

Applied Biosystems has reported an increase in revenue and income for its fiscal first quarter, driven by growing sales of its real-time PCR and other applied genomics products, while DNA sequencing revenue declined.

Total revenue for the three months ended Sept. 30 increased to $390.3 million from $382.7 million during the same period last year. Revenue from real-time PCR and other applied genomics soared to $111.8 million, from $94.3 million last year. Mass spectrometry sales also increased, totaling $89.1 million compared to $82.4 million last year.

Revenue from the three other product categories declined: DNA sequencing revenue sank to $116.1 million from $124.8 million; core DNA synthesis and PCR revenue declined to $47.4 million from $51.2 million; and revenue from other product lines fell to $25.9 million from $30 million.

R&D spending amounted to $51.1 million for the quarter, down from $59.6 million during the year-ago period. This decrease resulted from ABI’s recent alignment of its R&D product portfolio, the company said.

ABI’s net income for the quarter was $37.1 million, or $.19 per basic share, up from $33.4 million, or $.16 per basic share, for the year-ago quarter. Part of this increase — $800,000 — was due to income from a patent-infringement settlement and from the termination of a joint development agreement with Illumina, partially offset by severance charges from staff reductions.

MWG to Cut 60 Percent of Workforce

MWG Biotech will slash around 60 percent of its workforce in a further effort to reduce costs, the firm said this week.

The move comes just weeks after MWG said it would sell its microarray and lab-automation businesses in order to focus on genomic synthesis, synthetic nucleic acids, oligonucleotide production, and DNA sequencing. (see BAN 10/13/2004)

According to MWG, it will “massively reduce its workforce” from 351 to 140 “amid a streamlining of administration and sales structures.” The company noted that “service for all international customers remains unaffected.”

MWG announced the layoffs along with a drop in revenues for the first nine months of 2004, which fell to €26.5 million ($33.9 million) from €32.6 million the year before. The company’s DNA sequencing and nucleic acids product businesses contributed €17.9 million in revenues during the first nine months of this year, while the microarrays and lab automation operations brought in €8.5 million.

For the first nine months of 2004, MWG posted €6.8 million in losses before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

MWG said that for the full-year 2004, it anticipates revenues to total €31 million, with a loss before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, and restructuring costs of €9.4 million.

Affy, Big Pharma Execs Among Board of New ‘Personalized Medicine’ Nonprofit

Executives from Affymetrix, Genomas, and Genomic Health are part of more than 20 companies, academic centers, and government agencies that have formed the Personalized Medicine Coalition, a nonprofit group, the association said last week.

Edward Abrahams, former executive director of the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Association, is the PMC executive director, according to a statement.

The PMC board comprises executives from Abbott Laboratories, Affymetrix, Amgen, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, Genentech, Genomas, Genomic Health, Roche, IBM, Pfizer, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The US National Cancer Institute and the US National Human Genome Research Institute are “also active” as ex-officio members, the statement added.

The PMC will focus on topics including: the implications of privacy laws and intellectual property laws in personalized medicine; global developments in biorepositories; and “the value proposition” of emerging drugs and molecular-based tests, the organization said.

Nanogen, Epoch Announce Date for Merger Vote

Nanogen and Epoch Biosciences have scheduled a special meeting of stockholders for Dec. 8, 2004, to vote on certain matters in connection with the proposed merger of Epoch into Nanogen.

Under the terms of the agreement, which was announced in early September, Nanogen has agreed to an offer price of $2 per Epoch share — a 30 percent premium over the average closing price of Epoch’s shares for the 20 trading days ended Sept. 1. Epoch shareholders will receive a number of Nanogen shares based on an exchange ratio determined by dividing the offer price by Nanogen’s issue price as calculated at closing.

Nanogen and Epoch set the close of business on Oct. 26 as the record date for determination of shareholders entitled to vote on the merger and its conditions.

This week, Epoch posted revenues for the quarter ended Sept. 30 of $2.4 million, up from $2 million during the same period last year. The firm reported an increase in product sales, led by the MGB Eclipse products, and an increase in license fees and royalties.

NIEHS, Perlegen to Resequence Mice DNA

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences announced that it will invest $13 million to map the DNA of 15 mouse strains. The resequencing project, which will be conducted through a two-year contract with Perlegen Sciences, will launch the institute’s Center for Rodent Genetics.

According to NIEHS, for the first five years of its existence the center will support efforts to investigate environmental exposures and disease susceptibility, identify disease mechanisms and pathways, compare mouse and human biomarkers, and encourage development of rapid cell-based methods for comparing the effects of environmental exposures. The center plans to apply the research findings to population analysis and toxicology testing by the third year.

ENCODE Project Announces $5.5 Million in Grants

Six researchers in labs in the US and Singapore received $5.5 million in technology developments grants ranging from two to three years as part of the next step in the ENCODE consortium, the National Human Genome Research Institute announced last week.

The ENCODE (Encyclopedia of Complete DNA Elements) project, established in Sept. 2003 with the goal of creating a “parts list” of all the sequence-based functional elements in the human DNA sequence, on Thursday detailed its strategy in an article published in the Oct. 22 issue of Science.

The project will have three phases: pilot, technology development, and production. The pilot project will devise and test high-throughput known approaches to identify functional elements. The technology development phase will develop computational and lab methods to identify known functional sequences, and discover new functional genomic elements. The pilot project and the technology development will focus on 44 DNA targets, covering about 1 percent of the human genome.

Recipients of the 2004 ENCODE technology development grants are: Joseph Ecker of The Salk Institute, La Jolla, Calif.; Vishwanath Iyer of the University of Texas, Austin; Yijun Ruan of the Genome Institute of Singapore; Thomas Tullius of Boston University; Madaiah Puttaraju of Intronn, Gaithersburg, Md.; and Scott Tenenbaum, of the University at Albany, State University of New York.


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.