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Genomics One, HUGO, Affymetrix, MWG Biotech, GE Healthcare, GenUs BioSystems, CodeLink, Lion Bioscience, Perlegen Sciences, EcoArray, Dharmacon, NCi


Genomics One Purchases Proteomics Assets of Bankrupt Canadian Firm

Genomics One has acquired from Solidarity Fund QFL a secured debt of CDN$175,000 (US$147,700) against Dephy Technologies, a Montreal-based proteomics company that recently filed for bankruptcy protection and ceased its activities.

Under the agreement, Genomics One will pay $175,000 and issue 20,000 common shares from its capital stock in exchange for the debt, plus accrued interest.

“Genomics One’s intent in completing this deal was to be able to acquire all the tangible and intangible assets of Dephy, which include equipment, completed instruments, work in process, intellectual property, and know-how,” Suzanne Lebel, president and CEO of Genomics One, said in a statement. “Through this acquisition, Genomics One has become the only secured creditor of Dephy.”

Genomics One signed a letter of intent a couple of months ago to purchase a new microarray platform from Accurate Biogene Systems, a Toronto-based start-up (see BAN 9/22/2004).

At the time of the acquisition, Lebel told BioArray News, “This technology is going to be applicable to DNA, RNA proteins, and tissue. That makes a world of difference.” She added, “We’re in discussions with a couple of groups to set up partnerships to further advance the technology and offer these applications. At the moment, we concentrated step one on DNA. The next wave of products would involve tissue and proteins.”

The new platform is expected to be launched in late winter or early spring. The firm also intends to offer custom gene expression analysis for clients.

HUGO, Affymetrix Sponsor Pacific/Pan-Asian SNP Initiative

A coalition of scientists from Asian countries are organizing the HUGO Pacific Pan-Asian SNP Initiative, which aims to provide a detailed, comprehensive picture of the genetic diversity in Asian populations.

Sponsored by the Human Genome Organization and Affymetrix, the pan-Asian project is expected to begin in the middle of 2005. The study will examine 50,000 SNPs in each study participant and will focus particularly on genetic differences that affect health. It will use SNP microarray technology made by Affymetrix, combined with semiconductor manufacturing technology.

“The study will give scientists a ‘genetic map’ of human history in Asia, showing how nearly half of the world’s population migrated throughout the region and settled to form the distinct cultures that we know today,” said Edison Liu, executive director of the Genome In-stitute of Singapore.

Participating countries include China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Sing-apore, Thailand, and Taiwan.

MWG to Issue Bonds to Raise €10 Million

MWG Biotech will issue convertible bonds to raise some €10 million ($13 million), the Ebersberg, Germany-based company said last week.

The bonds will pay 6 percent interest per year until Dec. 14, 2007, and are convertible on a 1:1 ratio with MWG Biotech shares. Existing shareholders will be offered the opportunity to purchase one bond for each 3.4 existing shares.

The bonds will not be publicly offered, and those not underwritten by existing shareholders will be placed with institutional investors, the company said.

MWG is in the process of trying to divest its microarray and lab automation products business — the latest in a series of restructuring efforts dating back to 2001. The firm is planning on refocusing its business on its core oligonucleotide synthesis and DNA sequencing service units (see BAN 10/13/2004).

MWG recently announced that it would cut 60 percent of its workforce in an effort to further reduce costs. The layoffs were announced along with a drop in revenues for the first nine months of 2004, which fell to €26.5 million ($33.9 million) from €32.6 million the year before. The company’s DNA sequencing and oligo synthesis businesses contributed €17.9 million in revenues during the first nine months of this year, while the microarray and lab automation operations brought in €8.5 million.

GE Healthcare accredits GenUs to Provide CodeLink Gene-Expression Services

GE Healthcare this past week accredited GenUs BioSystems to provide gene-expression services using the firm’s CodeLink platform.

GenUs “is the only certified CodeLink laboratory focused solely on gene-expression experimentation,” Jeff Bergau, a spokesperson for GenUs, told GenomeWeb News, BioArray News’ sister publication.

The company will use CodeLink for both gene expression and “DNA-based” experiments, according to a GenUs statement.

GenUs President Scott Magnuson helped develop the CodeLink technology while he was head of genomics and bioinformatics for Motorola Life Sciences. He later left the company after it was bought by Amersham, and founded GenUs in April 2003.

The CodeLink platform became the property of GE Healthcare when the company acquired Amersham in April.

Lion to Cut At Least Half of Staff In Latest Restructuring Move

Lion Bioscience said last week that it plans to cut its staff by at least 50 percent as the German bioinformatics company continues to restructure itself in the face of dwindling revenue.

Lion said it will operate with between 50 and 70 employees — down from the 142 staffers it had as of Sept. 30 — in fiscal 2005-2006. Lion’s fiscal year begins on April 1. The company said it would incur the costs from this restructuring during the current fiscal year.

Lion also said that it can not achieve its operating forecast for the current fiscal year, and, for FY 2005, it will reduce its Heidelberg, Germany, headquarters to core management functions and staff needed to perform duties needed for its cheminformatics partnership with Bayer.

Lion said its SRS bioinformatics and LeadNavigator cheminformatics products will be headquartered in its subsidiaries in Cambridge, UK, and Cambridge, Mass., respectively, and new funds will be disbursed to oper-ations “only if the unit is profitable,” Lion said.

Earlier last week, Lion restructured its executive staff and decided to delist its American depositary shares from the Nasdaq exchange.

Perlegen Gets NIDA Contract to Study Genetics of Nicotine Addiction

Perlegen Sciences has received a $2.1 million contract from the US National Institute on Drug Abuse to study genetic variations and candidate genes associated with nicotine addiction, the firm said last week.

Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis will use Perlegen technology to analyze more than 1.5 million SNPs across the genome in people highly addicted to nicotine. They will compare their findings with those from studies conducted on people who are not addicted to nicotine.

EcoArray to Develop Minnow Chip for EPA

Alachua, Fla.-based EcoArray will develop a fish array to help the US Environmental Protection Agency perform environmental testing, the company announced.

Under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the EPA, EcoArray will collaborate with EPA researchers in Ohio and Minnesota to design a gene chip for the fathead minnow, which the EPA uses to test the quality of freshwater. Chemicals in polluted water cause changes in gene expression in the fish, and the pattern of expression can indicate which chemicals are affecting the fish.

The purpose of the CRADA is to determine the best platform to use to construct a standard microarray for the fish. Once the platform is established, EcoArray plans to release microarrays for several species used in environmental analysis, the company said.

GE Healthcare To Exclusively Distribute Dharmacon’s RNAi Products in Japan

GE Healthcare will be the exclusive distributor of RNAi research products for Dharmacon in Japan, the companies said this week.

Customers in Japan will be able to order Dharmacon products directly from GE Healthcare, and GE Healthcare's sales and technical staff will be trained to support Dharmacon's RNAi product line.

Dharmacon, a subsidiary of Fischer Scientific International, is based in Lafayette, Colo.

NCi awards $9.8 million to 17 early-detection biomarker development labs

The National Cancer Institute has awarded $9.8 million to 17 Biomarker Developmental Laboratories within the Early Detection Research Network, the agency announced late last week.

Institutions that were granted the first-year funding include the University of Pittsburgh, Fox Chase Cancer Center, the University of Michigan, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Johns Hopkins University. A complete list of grantees is available here.

Investigators at the BDL will examine the human genome, proteome, epitome, and metabolome to identify biomarkers that can potentially serve as early detection biomarkers and markers of progression of the disease.

“The synergized power of DNA arrays, protein arrays, and bioinformatics are being used to help decipher hundreds of thousands of leads to discover unique signatures for early cancer," said Sudhir Srivastava, the chief of the cancer biomarker research group at NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention.

The NCI received 68 applications to serve as Biomarker Developmental Laboratories, out of which 17 were selected for funding. The funding is the second round of five-year funding for components of the EDRN.

The Scan

Harvard Team Report One-Time Base Editing Treatment for Motor Neuron Disease in Mice

A base-editing approach restored SMN levels and improved motor function in a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy, a new Science paper reports.

International Team Examines History of North American Horses

Genetic and other analyses presented in Science find that horses spread to the northern Rockies and Great Plains by the first half of the 17th century.

New Study Examines Genetic Dominance Within UK Biobank

Researchers analyze instances of genetic dominance within UK Biobank data, as they report in Science.

Cell Signaling Pathway Identified as Metastasis Suppressor

A new study in Nature homes in on the STING pathway as a suppressor of metastasis in a mouse model of lung cancer.