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BioArray Briefs: Jan 27, 2009

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Lenetix to Co-market CombiMatrix MDx Tests

CombiMatrix last week said that its suite of array CGH-based tests will be co-marketed by New York-based diagnostics lab Lenetix.

The focus of the collaboration is CombiMatrix's suite of arrays for genetic conditions, primarily its BAC HD Scan test, which identifies more than 290 genomic causes of developmental disorders. Syndromes identified by the test include Down (trisomy 21), Prader-Willi, Smith Magenis, trisomy 13, trisomy 18, and DiGeorge syndromes, among others. The collaboration also includes CombiMatrix's Prenatal Scan array CGH test, a customized test specifically designed for use in prenatal diagnostics, said CombiMatrix.

"Our collaboration with Lenetix will help us increase awareness of our tests among primary care physicians including pediatricians, genetic counselors, and obstetricians-gynecologists — key customers of Lenetix," said Mansoor Mohammed, president and CEO of Combimatrix Molecular Diagnostics, in a statement.

Financial terms of the co-marketing pact were not disclosed.


Sequenom to Acquire MDx Assets from SensiGen for $8.7M

Sequenom said this week that it has signed an agreement to acquire SensiGen's portfolio of AttoSense genetic tests, as well as certain other assets, for $8.7 million in cash and stock.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sequenom will acquire all of SensiGen's currently developed assays, including the AttoSense HPV-G and HPV-Q tests for cervical cancer, AttoSense HPV-C for head and neck cancer, the AttoSense Kidney Test, and the EpiSense Lupus Panel, along with certain other assets and intellectual property rights.

The total purchase price of $8.7 million includes future earn-out milestone payments, Sequenom said.

Sequenom has been collaborating since 2007 with the privately held firm on the development of assays that run on its MassArray platform. Last year, as part of an expansion of that agreement, Sequenom gained the right to a minority equity interest in SensiGen.

Harry Stylli, president and CEO of Sequenom, said in a statement that the addition of SensiGen's AttoSense tests is a "key step" toward the company's goal of building its portfolio of diagnostics for women's health and cancer.


Agilent Renames Velocity11 Business

Agilent Technologies has renamed its Velocity11 business Agilent Automated Solutions, the firm said this week.

The firm made the announcement at the Association for Laboratory Automation 2009 Conference being held this week in Palm Springs, Calif. Agilent Automated Solutions is part of the company's Life Sciences Solutions unit and introduced new products at the conference, including the Direct Drive Robot for applications such as DNA extraction and PCR sample preparation and the VWorks Automation Control Software.

Agilent acquired Velocity11 in December 2007 in an effort to strengthen its automated sample prep offerings across a broad range of applications.


Fluidigm, ABI Agree to Drop Legal Skirmish

Fluidigm and Life Technologies' Applied Biosystems business have agreed to end legal actions against each other related to Fluidigm's BioMark System, a Fluidigm spokesperson told BioArray News sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News last week.

The firms agreed to dismiss the case, which was filed by Fluidigm against ABI in June 2008, last week, according to court documents. Howard High, the Fluidigm spokesman, said that the agreement does not include the exchange of any money or any licensing of products.

Fluidigm's lawsuit sought a declaration from the US District Court for the Southern District of New York that its technology did not infringe ABI's patent, US No. 6,814,934. The patent is entitled “Instrument for Monitoring Nucleic Acid Amplification” and was issued to ABI in November 2004.

The suit was in response to a letter it had received from ABI demanding that the firm “immediately cease and desist from the manufacture, importation, use, sale, and offer of sale of [Fluidigm’s] BioMark System for Genetic Analysis” in jurisdictions in which ABI’s patent is valid.

"As we got into the prep for the trial activity we found that the two companies had some mutually interesting product opportunities, and exploring those opportunities was difficult with litigation pending between the two of us," said High. "So, we basically decided to end it."

However, he said the firms have reserved the right to pursue legal action in the future, under the agreement.

Fluidigm's BioMark System was initially launched in 2006. Last year, the firm rolled out a new version of the system, which is configured to run 96 samples against 96 primer-probe sets and can be used to conduct both gene expression and genotyping experiments.


DeCode Sells Auction Rate Securities to Bank

DeCode Genetics said last week that it had sold to Icelandic bank NBI its auction rate securities for a price of $11 million.

Under terms of the sale, DeCode has a call option to require NBI to sell the securities back to the firm at any time prior to Dec. 31, 2009, while NBI has a put option to require DeCode to repurchase the securities following the sale of certain other DeCode assets, or if not previously repurchased, on Dec. 31, 2009.

Reykjavik, Iceland-based DeCode took a $7.7 million charge in its fourth quarter of 2007 related to impairment of its auction rate securities. At the time, CEO Kari Stefansson said, "Obviously, we are not happy with the illiquidity of the auction rate securities. However, we are taking the appropriate measures in an attempt to recover the money invested in them."

The firm also said in the statement that it was continuing to reduce expenses while evaluating "strategic alternatives, including corporate partnerships and the sale of assets. DeCode believes that the proceeds from the sale of the auction rate securities will be sufficient to sustain operations into the second quarter, enabling the company to complete its strategic review and to pursue the best opportunities emerging from this process without seeking additional financing."

NBI is a state-run bank that was formed in October 2008 to take over the insolvent Landsbanki, which was formerly one of Iceland's biggest banks.

The Scan

And Back

The New York Times reports that missing SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences are back in a different database.

Lacks Family Hires Attorney

A lawyer for the family of Henrietta Lacks plans to seek compensation from pharmaceutical companies that have used her cancer cells in product development, the Baltimore Sun reports.

For the Unknown

The Associated Press reports that family members are calling on the US military to use new DNA analysis techniques to identify unknown sailors and Marines who were on the USS Arizona.

PLOS Papers on Congenital Heart Disease, COVID-19 Infection Host MicroRNAs, Multiple Malformation Mutations

In PLOS this week: new genes linked to congenital heart disease, microRNAs with altered expression in COVID-19, and more.