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CombiMatrix, Furuno Electric, Nanosphere, US Government, Aclara Biosciences, Caliper Life Sciences, Cepheid, Lion Bioscience, CeMines, NHGRI, MWG Biotech


Combimatrix, Furuno to Develop Bench-top Microarray Synthesizer

CombiMatrix this week said that it has entered into a multi-year strategic alliance with Furuno Electric to design, engineer, and build CombiMatrix’s Bench-Top DNA Microarray Synthesizer for its CustomArray microarrays.

Under the deal, Hyogo, Japan-based Furuno will pay CombiMatrix an initial fee of $1 million, as well as development and milestones payments. CombiMatrix and Furuno will co-develop a commercial Bench-Top Synthesizer instrument that will synthesize DNA microarrays at core facilities, pharmaceutical and biotech research sites, and academic microarray centers, said Newport Beach, Calif.-based CombiMatrix.

The new instrument will utilize CombiMatrix’s semiconductor-based electrochemical synthesis techno-logy to rapidly and simultaneously produce the microarrays.

Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Nanosphere, US Government Expand Pact

Nanosphere announced that its contract with the US Government Technical Support Working Group to develop a field-deployable system to detect DNA sequences of biological warfare agents, has been expanded.

The initial contract was signed in 2002 and involves development of the firm’s Verigene platform for use in detecting agents such as anthrax and plague. The expansion follows a recent $2.5 million contract from the same US agency to optimize the Verigene platform into a field-deployable system that would enable emergency first responders and hospital triage personnel to identify biological toxins, such as ricin and botulinum toxin.

Northbrook, Ill.-based Nanosphere also said it received a $750,000 Phase II grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to fund the development of diagnostic tests for biological warfare agents and the identification of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Aclara Q2 Revenues Up, Net Loss Drops

Aclara Biosciences reported an uptick in second-quarter revenue amid significantly decreased R&D spending and a narrowed net loss.

The company, which is slated to be acquired by ViroLogic during the fourth quarter, generated $515,000 in receipts for the three months ended June 30 compared with $405,000 in the year-ago quarter.

Second-quarter R&D spending shrank to $2.7 million from $4 million year over year. As a result, the firm’s net loss decreased to $4.9 million, or $.13 per share, from $5.1 million, or $.14 per share, during the second quarter last year.

Aclara, based in Mountain View, Calif., said it had around $81.9 million in cash, equivalents, and marketable securities as of June 30.

Caliper Posts 222 Percent Gain in Q2 Revenues

Caliper Life Sciences reported a 222 percent gain in second-quarter revenues, driven by sales from Zymark, which the firm acquired in July 2003.

Caliper had revenues of $18.9 million in the quarter, up from $5.9 million in the second quarter of 2003.

The Hopkinton, Mass.-based firm posted a net loss of $9.5 million, or $.33 per share, compared to a net loss of $9.5 million, or $.38 per share, in the comparable period last year.

This year’s second-quarter results include a $2.4 million restructuring charge related to future lease costs of facilities no longer occupied following consolidation of its Mountain View, Calif., oper-ations. The results also included $180,000 in severance charges and related benefits incurred in connection with the elimination of 14 positions.

Caliper finished the second quarter with $52.9 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term marketable securities.

Cepheid Q2 Revenues Climb 175 Percent

Cepheid last week reported a 175 percent increase in second-quarter revenues, driven primarily by sales related to the United States Postal Service Biohazard Detection System.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company posted revenues of $11.3 million, compared to revenues of $4.1 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2003. It posted a net loss for the quarter of $3.7 million, or $.09 per share, down from a net loss of $4.4 million, or $.14 per share, in the corresponding period last year.

Cepheid’s gross margins remained constant with last year’s second quarter at 42 percent.

During the quarter, the firm inked licensing deals with Applera firms Applied Biosystems and Celera Diagnostics, as well as F. Hoffmann-La Roche.

Cepheid expects its total fiscal 2004 revenues to be in the range of $42 million to $46 million, and its net loss for the year to be in the range of $10.5 million to $12.5 million, or $.25 to $.30 per share.

Lion Q1 Revenues, Net Loss Decline

Lion Bioscience reported lower first-quarter revenues for its fiscal year 2004/2005, but also lowered its net loss for the period.

Lion posted revenues of €4 million ($4.81 million) in the quarter ended June 30, 2004, compared to revenues of €5.5 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2003/2004. According to the bioinformatics firm, 53 percent of its first-quarter revenues were derived from collaborative projects with Bayer.

The company reduced its net loss for the quarter to €2.6 million ($3.13 million) from €4.5 million in the comparable period a year ago. Its costs and expenses for the quarter declined 32 percent to €6.3 million ($7.58 million).

Lion said it received three new orders for its SRS software and a new cheminformatics professional serv-ices order in North America during the quarter.

The Heidelberg, Germany-based firm confirmed its forecast for the current fiscal year, with revenues pre-dicted to be €12 million-€13 million and its net loss to be €10 million-€11 million.

CeMines Launches Division for Genomics-Related Tools, Services

Biotech company CeMines, of Evergreen, Colo., said last week that it has created a biosystems division that will focus on offering genomics-related research tools and services to the research and drug discovery market.

“We have the existing infrastructure necessary to enable CeMines to immediately accelerate the growth of sales from our existing product line of research tools, including antibodies, cDNA, and mRNA, and at the same time commence with our market introduction of a new family of products targeted at establishing CeMines as a premier brand in drug discovery and other markets,” Roger Attick, president and CEO of CeMines, said in a statement.

Founded in 2000, the company primarily uses gene regulation technology to help develop diagnostics and therapeutics for cancer. In June, the company expanded its diagnostics and therapeutics division and moved it to a new facility in La Jolla, Calif.

CeMines is attempting to commercialize its patent-pending Molecular FingerPrinting technology to aid in developing early-stage diagnostics and targeted therapeutics, the company said.

NHGRI to Sequence 18 New Organisms

The National Human Genome Research Institute announced that its large-scale sequencing research network will begin sequencing the genomes of 18 new organisms.

The organisms are divided into two groups based on their collective scientific merits, NHGRI said. The first group consists of nine mammals, seven of which will be used primarily to identify conserved sequences among the genomes of humans and other mammals. These seven organisms are: the African savannah elephant (Loxodonta Africana); European common shrew (Sorex araneus); European hedgehog (Erinaceus europeaus); guinea pig (Cavia porcellus); lesser hedgehog tenrec (Echniops telfairi); nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus); and rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus).

NHGRI said it would also sequence the domestic cat (Felis catus), to supplement data from the above and because it is an important human disease model, and the orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), for its importance in understanding basic differences between humans and other primates.

The second group comprises nine non-mammalian organisms: a slime mold (Physarum polycephalum); ciliate (Oxytricha trifallax); choanoflagellate (Monosiga ovata); placozoan (Trichoplax adhaerens); cnidarian (Hydra magnipapillata); snail (Biomphalaria glabrata); two roundworms (Pristionchus pacificu, Trichinella spiralis); and the lamprey (Petromyzon marinus).

The sequencing will be carried out by five centers in the NHGRI-supported large-scale sequencing research network: Agencourt Bioscience; Baylor College of Medicine; the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; The Institute for Genomic Research; and the Washington University School of Medicine.

MWG Reports Drop in First-Half Revenues

MWG Biotech reported a drop in revenues for the first half of 2004, in part because a restructuring of the company’s sales and marketing organization has yet to have a positive impact on the numbers, it said.

The German firm posted first-half revenues of €17.6 million ($21.6 million), down from €22.6 million ($27.8 million) in the same period of 2003.

The company's net loss for the first half of 2004 was €6.5 million ($8 million), flat with the first half of 2003.

As of June 30, MWG had liquid funds of €9.3 million ($11.4 million).

MWG said it expects to be able to meet its previously announced targets for 2004 of "moderate turnover growth, balanced [earnings before interest, tax, and depreciation], and balanced cash flow," but, "there will be now major time lags in the conclusion and realization of also larger projects, which in turn would impact the turnover relevance of these projects until year end, and thus also negatively influence the other target values."

The Scan

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.

Adenine Base Editor Targets SCID Mutation in New Study

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, report in Cell that adenine base editing was able to produce functional T lymphocytes in a model of severe combined immune deficiency.

Researchers Find Gene Affecting Alkaline Sensitivity in Plants

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science have found a locus affecting alkaline-salinity sensitivity, which could aid in efforts to improve crop productivity, as they report in Science.

International Team Proposes Checklist for Returning Genomic Research Results

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics present a checklist to guide the return of genomic research results to study participants.