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Fluidigm, Agilent, BioForce Nanosciences, University Pierre & Marie Curie, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Wellcome Trust

Fluidigm's Q3 Revenues, Net Loss Rise
Fluidigm this week reported that its third-quarter revenues increased 124 percent over the comparable period of 2007, while its net loss grew 51 percent year over year.
The South San Francisco, Calif.-based firm said its total revenues were $4.6 million compared to around $2.1 million for the third quarter of 2007. Its product revenue, which consists of sales of integrated fluid circuits, instruments, software, reagents, and services, tripled to $4.2 million from $1.4 million.
Fluidigm said that sales volume for its BioMark system, which is used for gene expression analysis, genotyping, and digital PCR applications, doubled compared to the second quarter of this year. The company also launched this past summer its 96.96 Dynamic Array that can perform 9,216 simultaneous experiments.
Fluidigm’s net loss for the quarter was $8.9 million compared to $5.9 million for Q3 2007. The firm did not report its loss per share as it is still privately held.
The company had filed for an initial public offering earlier this year and was expected to float on the Nasdaq in September at a price of between $14 and $16 per share. However, the economic crisis that has taken a toll on the stock market led the firm to ditch the IPO in late September.
Fluidigm acknowledged that it is not customary for a privately held firm to publicly report its financials. However, “we felt an obligation to update the financial world after we had promoted our company and its business prospects during our IPO roadshow,” said Fluidigm President and CEO Gajus Worthington. “We do not plan to disclose our financial data regularly.”

Strong Microarray Sales Spur 17 Percent Growth in Agilent's Life Science Business
Agilent last week reported 17 percent year-over-year revenue growth in its Life Science business unit for its fourth fiscal quarter, driven by a 40 percent boost in microarray sales.
For the three months ended Oct. 31, 2008, revenues for Agilent’s Life Science business, a division of its Bio-Analytical Measurement unit, rose 17 percent to $276 million. Revenue growth for this business was 10 percent excluding acquisitions.
Agilent said in a statement that spending by pharma and biotech customers was up 15 percent in the quarter “despite continued weakness in the Americas and parts of Europe,” while sales to the academic and government markets rose 22 percent over the year-ago period, “with particular strength in microarrays, which were up over 40 percent.”
Revenues for the Bio-Analytical Measurement unit, which includes the Life Science and Chemical Analysis businesses, rose 10 percent to $616 million from $558 million in the comparable period of 2007, with organic growth of 5 percent. Total orders for the unit were up 8 percent.
Geographically, revenues for the Bio-Analytical Measurement unit rose 12 percent in the Americas, 2 percent in Europe, and 20 percent in Asia, with China “particularly strong,” Agilent said.
The company said that it saw “strength across the major platforms” in the Bio-analytical Measurement unit, which includes gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, and liquid chromatography/mass spectroscopy systems. Orders for instruments and consumables for these systems increased more than 10 percent from the year-ago period.
Agilent reported total fourth-quarter revenues of $1.48 billion, an increase of 2 percent over $1.45 billion in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2007. Bill Sullivan, Agilent’s president and CEO, said in a statement that fourth-quarter revenues “came in below the low end of our expectations because of weaker than expected Electronic Measurement markets.”
Indeed, fourth-quarter Electronic Measurement revenues fell 3 percent to $865 million from $888 million, with the Americas up 2 percent, Europe down 2 percent, Japan down 15 percent and the rest of Asia down 3 percent. Orders for the unit fell 10 percent year-over-year.
The company reported total organic revenue growth in the Americas of around 4 percent, and said that local currency revenues were nearly flat in Asia due to “continued weakness” in Japan. In Europe, organic revenues were down about 5 percent from the prior-year period.
Agilent’s total R&D spending decreased 2 percent to $170 million from $174 million in the year-ago period, while SG&A costs dipped 4 percent to $408 million from $426 million.
Agilent reported a 28 percent increase in fourth-quarter net income to $231 million, or $.64 per diluted share, from $180 million, or $0.46 per share.
The company had $1.4 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of Oct. 31.

BioForce Nanosciences, French Researchers to Collaborate on Neural Cell-Based Assays
BioForce Nanosciences last week said that it will collaborate with researchers from the University Pierre & Marie Curie and the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique to develop technologies, protocols, and products related to neural cell-based assays.
The assays will be created using BioForce’s Nano eNabler molecular printer, which will allow scientists to study the structure, function, and microenvironments of neural cells. The Ames, Iowa-based firm said that neural cell-based assays hold “great promise” for evaluating the potential of new drug compounds for treating neurodegenerative diseases and neural trauma.
"This novel molecular microprinting device appears to be a very useful and flexible technology to bring new insights into the cellular response processes, such as proliferation, apoptosis, morphogenesis, and differentiation,” Fatiha Nothias, principal investigator at UPMC, said in a statement.
Financial and other terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.

UK's Wellcome Trust Seeking to Fund New GWA Disease Studies
The UK's Wellcome Trust is seeking independent researchers to conduct genome-wide association disease studies building on the GWA studies it began with the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium in 2005.
The Wellcome Trust said it aims to continue the “remarkable success” the WTCCC has had in screening entire genomes in large numbers of patients to find genetic variants that could play a role in diseases. The Wellcome Trust hopes that these variants could lead to new molecular targets for prevention, diagnosis, or treatment.
International research consortia are encouraged to apply for the funding, provided they are led by an investigator based in the UK or Republic of Ireland.
The WTCCC awarded £30 million (around $46 million) in January of this year to fund 27 new studies that extended the range of diseases or traits it was investigating.
Researchers may apply for awards either in collaboration with the WTCCC or independently. All will have access to validated genotypes from 600 common controls from the UK that were typed using Illumina and Affymetrix technology. Those collaborating with the WTCCC will have access to its centralized DNA handling, quality control, genotyping, and data analysis resources.
Wellcome Trust will assess the genotyping strategy researchers plan to use and the platforms they propose using, and it wants to know how the material will be analyzed and who will conduct the analysis. It also wants to know the bioinformatics infrastructure and expertise that researchers have available for data handling.
More information about the Wellcome Trust’s call for proposals is available here.

The Scan

Vaccine Update Recommended

A US Food and Drug Administration panel recommends booster vaccines be updated to target Omicron, CNBC reports.

US to Make More Vaccines for Monkeypox Available

The US is to make nearly 300,000 vaccine doses available in the coming weeks to stem the spread of human monkeypox virus, according to NPR.

Sentence Appealed

The Associated Press reports that Swedish prosecutors are appealing the sentence given to a surgeon once lauded for transplanting synthetic tracheas but then convicted of causing bodily harm.

Genome Biology Papers on COVID-19 Effector Genes, Virtual ChIP-seq, scDART

In Genome Biology this week: proposed COVID-19 effector genes, method to predict transcription factor binding patterns, and more.