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ERCC, InBio, CombiMatrix, PerkinElmer, EuroGentest, NHGRI, VizX, ABI

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ERCC Calls for RNA Control Test Sites

The External RNA Controls Consortium announced last week that it is looking for sites to test external RNA controls.

"At first, we will be looking for volunteers from commercial manufacturers to help collect data and test these external RNA controls," said ERCC chairperson Janet Warrington in a statement. Warrington is also vice president of molecular diagnostics and emerging markets R&D at Affymetrix.

"We will open the testing to other qualified academic institutions and research organizations later this year," she said. The ERCC said applications are due March 30.

Warrington wrote BioArray News in an e-mail this week that both ERCC and non-ERCC members are welcome to apply. She said that Affymetrix is interested in being one of the test sites.

The ERCC said the first phases of testing will be limited to microarray and QRT-PCR production sites. Applications for other non-manufacturing or non-production sites will be accepted later this year.

The application form, test site criteria, test plan and more information can be found at http://www.imclgs.org.


Aussie Life Science Distributor to Oversee CombiMatrix's Japanese Subsidiary

CombiMatrix has transferred to partner InBio the day-to-day operational responsibility and majority ownership of its Japanese subsidiary, CombiMatrix KK, and has expanded its distribution agreement with InBio to include Japan, CombiMatrix parent Acacia Research said last week.

As part of the deal, InBio, which is based in Australia, has obtained 67 percent of the voting interests in the KK subsidiary, which is based in Tokyo. "InBio will assume all operational and financial responsibilities of the KK including its liabilities," Acacia said.

The CombiMatrix group will manage new business and strategic relationships and opportunities from its US headquarters in Mukilteo, Wash. The KK unit and InBio will "focus exclusively on sales of the CombiMatrix group's products and services," Acacia added.

"The experience of InBio executives in the Japanese markets as well as their proximity will enable more efficient management of our now jointly owned Japanese subsidiary," Amit Kumar, president and CEO of CombiMatrix, said in a statement.

Bret Undem told BioArray News in an e-mail last week that the move will also allow CombiMatrix "to continue to focus [its] direct sales on the US market."

"It also allows us to stay increasingly focused on our R&D and diagnostics [business] in the US were we see a lot of opportunities," he said.


PerkinElmer's Life and Analytical Sciences Revenue Slides 8 Percent in Q4

PerkinElmer last week reported that revenue for its Life and Analytical Sciences business unit declined 8 percent to $286.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2005.

The company attributed the decline to the "longer fiscal period in 2004 versus this year."

PerkinElmer posted total fourth-quarter 2005 revenue of $387.7 million, a 6-percent decrease over $411.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2004.

PerkinElmer spent $21 million on R&D during the fourth quarter of 2005, down from $22.3 million in the comparable period of 2004.

The company reported net income of $187.8 million, or $1.45, versus $37.9 million, or $.29 per share in the fourth quarter of 2004. The company said fourth quarter earnings include net divestiture gains of $1.47 per share.

As BioArray News reported in October, PerkinElmer divested its aerospace and fluid-testing businesses during the quarter (see BAN 10/12/2005). Its semiconductor business is expected to be spun off in the first quarter.

As of Jan. 1, PerkinElmer had cash and cash equivalents of $502.3 million.


EuroGentest Calls for 'Innovative Techniques' in Genomic Dx

EuroGentest, a 5-year, European Union-funded project, is looking to compile an inventory of new methods for use in genomic diagnostics to be tested in diagnostic centers throughout the EU, the organization said earlier this month.

EuroGentest said responses to the call will also be discussed in an open satellite workshop at the European Society of Human Genetics meeting in May. EuroGentest said that both academic and industrial research groups were welcome to introduce and assess their latest developments through expert diagnostic laboratories.

Interested parties can submit their technologies to EuroGentest at the project's website, http://www.eurogentest.org.


NHGRI Microarray Core Lab Purchases VizX's Genesifter

VizX Labs said this week that the National Human Genome Research Institute has purchased a fifteen-seat site license of the GeneSifter Core Edition online microarray data analysis system, for use in its Computational Genomics Unit.

The agreement provides NHGRI with VizX's flagship microarray data management and analysis tool.

David Audley, VizX's vice president of sales, said in a statement that the company has customized a set-up for NHGRI "that supports the bench researcher with scientific support and ongoing product training so that they can move from microarray data to biological discovery."


ABI Reports 4-Percent Revenue Growth in Fiscal Q2; RT-PCR Sales Surge as Sequencing Suffers

Applied Biosystems reported a 4-percent increase in total revenue for its second quarter of fiscal 2006, the company said last week.

ABI had total revenues of $481 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2005, compared to $463 million for same period one year ago. The company reported solid growth in its RT-PCR and Applied Genomics unit, where revenues grew 10 percent to $147 million. Revenue for its mass spectrometry segment grew 5 percent to $119 million year over year.

The company's DNA-sequencing segment did not fare as well, sliding more than 1 percent to $141 million. ABI said that it expected revenue growth in the real-time PCR/applied genomics and mass spec product categories to continue, and anticipated a further decline in its DNA sequencing segment.

ABI also reported R&D expenses of $45 million for the quarter, a slight decrease from $47 million a year ago, a decrease ABI attributed to a realignment of its R&D investments.

Net income fell to $31 million from $73 million for the same period last year.

ABI said it expects its growth to be in the low to mid single-digits for the remainder of FY 2006.

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.