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Gene Logic, Ocimum, Agendia, Herceptin, Illumina

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Gene Logic to Sell Genomics Arm to Ocimum for $10M; Retains Rights to Use IP for Repositioning Business
 
Gene Logic this week said it plans to sell its genomics business to Ocimum Biosystems for $10 million as it continues to reorganize itself as a drug-repositioning and -development firm.
 
The company said the deal allows it to hold full rights "in perpetuity" to use information from the genomics business to help build its drug-repositioning and -development business. CEO Charles Dimmler said the deal came after a "rigorous assessment" of the company's business strategy, and that streamlining its assets will allow it to "execute with singular focus" its drug-repositioning plans.
 
For now, the company plans to focus its development work on a small-molecule drug candidate that would treat inflammatory bowel disease.
 
Financial terms of the acquisition call for Ocimum to pay Gene Logic $7 million when the deal closes and the final $3 million 18 months later. Consummation of the sale is subject to certain undisclosed conditions and approval from Gene Logic's shareholders.
 
The purchase price may change based on certain potential revisions to the balance sheet at date of closing, Gene Logic said. Additionally, Ocimum will assume certain undisclosed liabilities associated with the genomics assets and business.
 
Hyderabad-based Ocimum is no stranger to acquisitions in the array-related genomics market. In 2005, the firm bought MWG Biotech’s microarray business and last year it acquired Dutch reagents and oligo manufacturer Ipsogen. Terms of both deals were undisclosed (see BAN 3/1/2005, BAN 11/17/2006).
 
Ocimum did not return an e-mail seeking comment by press time.
 

 
Agendia to Develop Array-Based Dx for Herceptin Resistance
 
Agendia this week said it has acquired the rights to the discovery of a “major mechanism” of resistance to the breast cancer drug Herceptin, and plans to develop a microarray-based diagnostic that can identify resistance-associated biomarkers.
 
Agendia said it has acquired the rights to use the Herceptin-related biomarker method, which is detailed in a study written by CSO Rene Bernards that appears in the Oct. 15 issue of the journal Cancer Cell. It was not immediately clear from whom the company acquired the rights.
 
Herceptin targets the HER2 protein, which is involved in around a quarter of all breast cancer cases and contributes to the aggressiveness of the disease. And although around a quarter of patients treated with the drug together with traditional chemotherapy have shown “striking initial responses,” a majority become resistant to the treatment, the company said.
 
According to Agendia, the technology relies on RNAi to simultaneously inactivate thousands of genes in cells that are sensitive to a specific cancer drug. “If the inactivation of a specific gene confers resistance to a cancer drug, cells harboring the inactivated gene can continue to grow in the presence of the cancer drug and can be readily identified,” the company said in a statement.
 
In the Cancer Cell study, researchers identified the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathway as a “major mechanism” of unresponsiveness to Herceptin-based therapies. According to Agendia, the pathway is mutated in up to half of all breast cancer tumors.
 

 
Illumina to Provide Genotyping Service for UVA, NIDDK Diabetes Study
 
Illumina said this week that it will handle genotyping services for a joint study for the Type I Diabetes Genetics Consortium that aims to identify genes that influence the risk of developing the disease.
 
The company said it will provide its Fast Track Genotyping Services to process more than 6,500 samples for the study, which is being conducted by the Center for Public Health Genomics at the University of Virginia for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
 
Illumina will use its HumanHap550-Duo BeadChip platform for the study. Once the diabetes-linked genes have been identified, "researchers can then use this information to develop better approaches to detecting, treating, and preventing the disease," said Stephen Rich, director of the CPHG.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

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