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CombiMatrix, Cogenics, H. Lundbeck, Premier Biosoft International, Veridiam, USDA, Gene Logic, Agilent Technologies, Barts, The London Medical School, Roche NimbleGen, Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Innogenetics

CombiMatrix Raises $10M in Sale of Convertible Note; Awarded DoD Contract
CombiMatrix said last week that it has sold a $10 million secured convertible note to YA Global Investments. Separately, this week it said it has been awarded a new contract from the US Department of Defense.
The convertible note is due before July 10, 2010, or within four months after CombiMatrix receives payment from National Union Fire Insurance Company in accordance with a $35.7 million judgment issued by the United States District Court for the Central District of California (see BAN 3/11/2008).
CombiMatrix said that after covering costs, the net proceeds from the sale of the note were approximately $9.8 million, which will be used for working capital needs including “expansion” of its molecular diagnostics business.
"Though we can never predict a final outcome or timing, we hope this capital will bridge us to collection” of the judgment against National Union, Amit Kumar, president and CEO of CombiMatrix, said in a statement.
The note bears annual interest of 10 percent and is convertible into common stock of CombiMatrix at any time at a conversion price of $11.87 per share, which is equivalent to 842,460 shares, the company said.
CombiMatrix shares were priced at $10.54 at noon on Tuesday.
The note is secured by the $35.7 million judgment “as well as other assets of the company,” CombiMatrix said.
In addition to the note, CombiMatrix issued a warrant to YA to purchase 168,492 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $11.87, and a warrant to purchase 168,492 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $13.65.
The term of both warrants is five years, and CombiMatrix has the right to call the warrants upon meeting certain trading conditions.
As a condition to the financing, all executive officers of CombiMatrix, including the CEO and board of directors, have signed “lock-up agreements” that prohibit selling of their current or future holdings until one-half of the principal amount of the note has been converted or redeemed.
The new DoD contract is for $922,610, to be executed over a fifteen-month period, the company said. One objective of the contract is the development of a hand-held detection system that will enable point-of-care testing.
David Danley, director of homeland defense at CombiMatrix, said in a statement that the US “military and other government agencies continue to have requirements for a small, rugged detection and diagnostic platform with extensive capabilities.
“All of our efforts are focused on developing, demonstrating, and providing a suite of products to meet these requirements," he said.

Lundbeck to Use Cogenics' Genotyping Platform in Phase I Trials
Cogenics said this week that it will provide the Danish pharmaceutical company H. Lundbeck with genotyping services to support clinical drug studies.
Under the agreement, the Clinical Data subsidiary will conduct genotyping in its labs in Morrisville, NC, and in Bernried, Germany, for Lundbeck’s Phase I clinical trials. Cogenics said the period of the agreement is open-ended and that the companies plan to collaborate on other projects in the future.
Cogenics offers genotyping services on the Affymetrix, Illumina, and Agilent array platforms, as well as on technology platforms from Sequenom, Luminex, and Applied Biosystems.
Lundbeck is focused on developing and marketing drugs for treating psychiatric and neurological disorders.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

Premier Biosoft, Veridiam Forge Strategic Partnership
Premier Biosoft International and Veridiam this week said that they have formed a joint strategic marketing partnership to offer integrated solutions for critical tissue microarray data analysis.
Premier is a Palo Alto, Calif.-based bioinformatics company that launched a package for TMA analysis in April, while San Diego-based Veridiam launched its line of semi-automated tissue arrayers in May.
Financial details of the agreement were not discussed.

USDA to Fund 'Omics Studies Under New $28.4M Specialty Crops Program
A new US Department of Agriculture program will award $28.4 million worth of grants this year aimed at improving specialty food crops via genomics and other biotechnology research programs, USDA said last week.
The program, called the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, will fund genetics and genomics research for plant breeding, among other goals, with the aim of combating pests and disease threats, improving production, and monitoring potential food hazards in specialty crops.
USDA said the specialty crop industry includes producers and handlers of fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, nursery crops, and floriculture.
USDA Secretary Ed Schafer called the funding, appropriated under the 2008 farm bill, “a substantial investment in scientific research… for production crops that will advance their large contribution to America’s agriculture both domestically and in world markets.”
More information about the USDA funding may be found here.
Applications for funding are due Aug. 14.

Agilent Renews Gene Logic's Status as Certified Microarray Service Provider
Gene Logic, an Ocimum Biosolutions company, said last week that Agilent Technologies has renewed its status as a Certified Microarray Service Provider for its gene expression microarrays.
Agilent’s Certified Service Provider program requires partners to pass a “rigorous assessment” on the company’s microarray platform, Gene Logic said.
Gene Logic was originally named an Agilent Certified Service provider in April 2007.
Ocimum acquired Gene Logic’s genomics business in December for $10 million (see BAN 12/18/2007).

UK Institute Installs Roche's 454 GS FLX, NimbleGen Capture Array Technology
Barts and The London Medical School, a UK-based hospital teaching trust, has acquired Roche NimbleGen’s sequence capture array technology for use with its existing Roche 454 Genome Sequencer FLX, Roche said last week.
The trust’s cancer genomics group, led by Brian Young, plans to use the combined system to study genetic changes involved in the development of leukemia. The researchers plan to link the sequence information to an existing clinical and cytogenetic database to investigate the relationship between genetic changes and clinical features of the disease.
The researchers expect that the new data could have implications for the future therapy and clinical outcome of hematological malignancies.
Using the Roche NimbleGen arrays, the researchers plan to capture a number of genes, including those known to be mutated in acute myelogenous leukemia, such as FLT3 and MLL, and characterize putative mutation targets by SNP genotype analysis. They also plan to analyze full sequences of mutated genes, including introns, using the GS FLX.
The scientists also want to study patterns of microRNA expression in AML and compare them to known gene expression profiles for other leukemia subtypes.
In addition, they plan to use paired-end sequencing to study microdeletions, a type of genetic abnormality that appears to be a characteristic feature of leukemias.

Solvay Raises Bid for Innogenetics; Gen-Probe Folds
Solvay Pharmaceuticals last week increased its bid to acquire Belgian molecular diagnostics firm Innogenetics to €6.50 per share from an initial offer that it made in April of €5.75 per share.
Gen-Probe, which made a counteroffer of €6.10 per share in early June, said that it does not intend to increase its offer. Innogenetics offers a number of assays on its array-based 4-MAT system that was co-developed with Pamgene (see BAN 6/10/2008).
Solvay said that the transaction value of its offer is €200.7 million ($316 million) for 100 percent of Innogenetics’ outstanding shares. This represents a 74 percent premium to Innogenetics’ closing price on April 24, the day before Solvay made its initial offer.
Innogenetics trades on the Euronext Brussels exchange.
Solvay said it expects the acquisition to close in the second half of 2008, pending approval by Belgium's regulatory authorities and Innogenetics’ board.
In a statement, Hank Nordhoff, Gen-Probe's chairman and CEO, said that the company believes “the disciplined analytical process we used to value Innogenetics resulted in a full and fair offer, and a higher bid therefore does not make financial sense for us."

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.