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Danish Microarray Maker Exiqon Cuts Sales Staff, Closes US Office

Danish microarray company Exiqon has made steep staff cuts and closed its US sales office, as part of a downsizing plan that began May 1, company officials said.

The cuts come mainly from sales and marketing, with a few from the R&D side, according to Lars Kongsbak, Exiqon’s vice president for business development, science, and technology.

“We are changing strategy,” said Kongsbak, putting a positive spin on the situation. “Instead of trying to sell our products ourselves, we are now looking for partners who will take that on. We are not going to build up our own sales force.”

Kongsbak, who was traveling in California in search of partners for the company, said this partnership strategy could include a merger.

Kongsback said the cuts and shift in strategy were motivated principally by the fact that the company “couldn’t really see an IPO in the near future,” leaving its venture capital backers with no viable exit strategy.

Exiqon, which makes Euray custom microarrays, Locked Nucleic Acids (LNA), and microplates, is now down to a staff of 45 at its facility outside Copenhagen.


Illumina SNAPs Up UNC SNP Contract

Illumina of San Diego has racked up another new services agreement, announcing last week that it would provide SNP-genotyping services for the University of North Carolina Pulmonary and Cystic Fibrosis Research Center.

Terms of the deal call for Illumina to design functional assays for many of the SNP loci provided by the center and use its BeadArray technology to genotype specified SNPs in the sample set.

Researchers at the UNC center are studying genetic models of host defense and disease mechanisms that contribute to development of non-asthmatic airways disease. The diseases in their studies include cystic fibrosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia, and more unusual genetic disorders, such as pseudohypoaldosteronism.


Lynx Snags NCI Services Contract

Lynx Therapeutics of Hayward, Calif., has entered into a service agreement with the US National Cancer Institute to study cancer gene expression.

Under the agreement, Lynx will be paid a fee for the genomics discovery services it performs using its massively parallel signature sequencing bead-based platform on cancer samples provided by NCI’s Cancer Genome Anatomy Project.


Spotfire, Rosetta to Integrate Software Platforms

Spotfire of Cambridge, Mass., and the Rosetta Biosoftware division of Merck said last week they would integrate their DecisionSite and Resolver technologies.

Under the three-year deal, current and future customers who subscribe to the platforms will be able to use both products simultaneously.

The integration will be available as early as July at no additional cost to customers who use both tools. It will take place either over the Internet or through an installation process, said David Butler, vice president of product strategy and marketing at Spotfire.


CombiMatrix Japan Signs Deal with U of Tokyo

The Japanese subsidiary of semiconductor micro-array maker CombiMatrix has struck a multi-year deal with the University of Tokyo to install a CombiMatrix gene chip synthesizer at the university and buy an undisclosed number of blank chips.

The synthesizer and the chips will be placed at the Genome Science Lab at the school’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology. Researchers at this center will use the chips to help it develop diagnostic microarray applications, drug leads, and identify target genes. The two groups said if the collaboration bears any products they will work out a way to commercialize them.

CombiMatrix is a subsidiary of Squolamie, Wash.-based Acacia Research.

The Scan

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NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

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CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.