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BioArray Briefs: 2009.05.05

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CombiMatrix Gets $8.3M Commitment from Investors

CombiMatrix has received commitments from undisclosed investors to purchase up to $8.25 million of the firm's common stock and warrants through a direct offering, the company said last week.

The molecular diagnostics and genetic analysis company said that it has agreed to sell roughly 1.1 million units for $7.50 each, with each unit consisting of one share of common stock and one warrant to purchase another share at a price of $9. The warrants ca be exercised six months after the offering and have a term of five years.

The company expects proceeds from the offering to add up to around $7.6 million.

"This financing strengthens our balance sheet and should enable us to continue expanding our leading portfolio of array based diagnostic tests as well as our growing sales and marketing activities," CombiMatrix President and CEO Amit Kumar said in a statement. The Mukilteo, Wash.-based firm hopes to "further strengthen its balance sheet upon receipt of the $36 million judgment from National Union in the future," Kumar said.

CombiMatrix is awaiting a payment of around $36 million from a judgment in its favor from the US District Court for the Central District of California that ordered the National Union Fire Insurance Company to pay the company that amount for refusing to defend and indemnify CombiMatrix under its director and officer's insurance policy (see BAN 3/10/2009).

Kumar told BioArray News this week that the new funding should see CombiMatrix through the next "five or six" quarters, during which time the company expects to collect the National Union judgment.


Med BioGene Loss Shrinks as it Prepares Lung Test Launch

Med BioGene said last week that its fiscal-year 2008 net loss declined slightly to C$2.3 million (US$1.9 million), or C$.07 per share, from C$2.4 million, or C$.09 per share.

The Vancouver, BC-based firm had no revenues, as it is gearing up to launch its molecular assay for lung cancer this year. Med BioGene's LungExpress Dx gene expression prognostic assay is being developed for patients with early stage non-small cell lung cancer (see BAN 3/24/2009).

Last month, the firm extended its biomarker collaboration with the University Health Network in Toronto. The deal expands the firm's previous exclusive license and collaboration with UHN, which will provide additional novel gene expression-based markers for LungExpress Dx.

For FY2008, Med BioGene spent C$786,674 on R&D, down 33 percent from C$1.2 million the year before. Its general and administrative spending for the year was C$1.4 million, up 12 percent from C$1.2 million in 2007.

As of Dec. 31, 2008, Med BioGene held cash, cash equivalents, and government receivables of around C$1.1 million.


Fluidigm Inks Deal with Dutch Seed Supplier

Fluidigm said last week that Enza Zaden, a Dutch supplier of vegetable seeds for agriculture, has chosen the firm's BioMark System for genetic engineering and will use its 96.96 Dynamic Array to ensure the quality of its feed supply.

Fluidigm and Bioke, a licensed distributor for the company based in the Netherlands, said that the supplier, Enza Zaden, will use its technology in genetically based marker-assisted selection programs to choose and control the quality of its seeds.

Fluidigm's BioMark System provides the South San Francisco, Calif.-based firm's integrated fluidic circuit technology for high-throughput genotyping applications. The BioMark 96.96 Dynamic Array is capable of performing 9,216 simultaneous real-time PCR experiments running TaqMan assays in nanoliter quantities, the company said.

Financial details were not discussed.


Duke Medical Center to Use WaferGen System in Genotyping Studies

Duke University Medical Center researchers will use WaferGen's real-time PCR system to conduct genotyping studies aimed at discovering genetic variants linked to breast cancer, the company said last week.

Under the agreement, scientists in the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy will conduct genotyping studies with the SmartChip Real-Time PCR system to validate nucleotide polymorphisms associated with breast cancer, and will study the impact those variants have on disease prognosis and response to treatment.

WaferGen said that this is the first time its system has been used for genotyping studies to validate SNPs.

The firm's chairman and CEO, Alnoor Shivji, said in a statement that cancer genetics "is a therapeutic area that is of significant interest to WaferGen, as evidenced by the proprietary oncology gene panel assays that we have already developed for use with the SmartChip system."

Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

The Scan

Push Toward Approval

The Wall Street Journal reports the US Food and Drug Administration is under pressure to grant full approval to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Deer Exposure

About 40 percent of deer in a handful of US states carry antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Millions But Not Enough

NPR reports the US is set to send 110 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad, but that billions are needed.

PNAS Papers on CRISPR-Edited Cancer Models, Multiple Sclerosis Neuroinflammation, Parasitic Wasps

In PNAS this week: gene-editing approach for developing cancer models, role of extracellular proteins in multiple sclerosis, and more.