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Illumina, Affymetrix, Genome Explorations, CombiMatrix, OGT, Invitrogen, Protagen

Illumina to Grow Sales Staff by at Least Half in '06; Affy Suit Could Go to Court in Early March
Illumina’s global sales staff will increase by at least half this year as the company sets to roll out its BeadXpress molecular diagnostic platform, a company official said this week.
CEO Jay Flatley, speaking to investors at the UBS Global Life Sciences Conference in New York, said Illumina’s sales staff will grow by between 50 percent and 60 percent this year over last.
Answering a question during a break-out session following his presentation, Flatley also said that Affymetrix’s patent-infringement suit against Illumina will likely begin during the second week of March 2007, though he said that has not been confirmed yet.
Affymetrix sued Illumina in July 2004 for allegedly infringing six patents in the DNA microarray field and related technology. Affy dropped one of the patents from the suit in March and a Markman hearing in the case was held in April.
At the conference, Flatley reiterated that the company plans to launch the BeadXpress technology by the end of the year. He said the platform, which will be able to run 100 samples per hour, will have applications in genotyping, gene expression research, and protein-binding studies. Flatley said these applications are still in development.
Flatley said the system will begin field testing “soon” and that the company will begin selling it in 2007 to the research market. In May Flatley said the goal is to get the system cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration roughly by the end of 2006, which will enable Illumina to begin selling it to CLIA labs.
He had also said the company may build and combine its own sales staff to sell diagnostic products while partnering with others. "It's likely to be a hybrid model," he said. "We're in the process of making some final evaluations."

Affy's Decision to Shutter Mass Plant Will Cost $15M-$19M
Affymetrix's decision to shutter its Bedford, Mass., plant will cost it between $15 million and $19 million, the company said in a filing with Securities and Exchange Commission this week.
As BioArray News reported earlier this month, the company decided to shut its instrument manufacturing and development facility as part of a restructuring plan to cut costs. The facility will be consolidated with two existing plants in California [see 9/19/2006 BioArray News].
Employee severance and relocation benefits are expected to cost between $8 million and $10 million. Vacating the facility, which was under lease, will cost between $5 million and $7 million.
Approximately $2 million will be spent on other costs, including fixed-asset write downs and equipment and inventory relocation costs.
These restructuring expenses will be reflected in the third cal quarter of 2006 and continue through the third quarter 2007.
Cash outlays incurred in connection with these restructuring activities are estimated to be in the range of $14 million to $18 million.
Affymetrix expects to complete the closure by third quarter of 2007.
As part of the shutdown, approximately 80 positions will be eliminated or transfered beginning in the fourth quarter this year and continuing into the first half of 2007, yesterday's filing reiterated.

Genome Explorations Joins CombiMatrix CombiCore Access Program
Acacia Research said last week that its CombiMatrix group has signed a non-exclusive agreement with Genome Explorations of Memphis, under the company's CombiCore access program.
Under the terms of the agreement, Genome Explorations has become an authorized service provider for CombiMatrix CustomArray and CatalogArray products.
The company joins CombiCore’s expanding roster, which also includes Australian Genome Research Facility, the University of Colorado’s HealthSciencesCenter and the University of California, DavisGenomeCenter.

OGT Licenses Microarray IP to Invitrogen
Oxford Gene Technology has licensed its oligonucleotide microarray patents to Invitrogen, OGT said this week.
With the license, Invitrogen can offer DNA related microarray services to customers worldwide from its US operations. The license will remain valid for the patents’ lifetime. Financial details were not disclosed.
Invitrogen obtained a non-exclusive, worldwide license to a number of Affy patents in June. OGT licensed its patents to four Japanese companies in August: Yamatake, NGK Insulators, Bio Matrix Research, and Filgen (see BAN 6/27/2006, BAN 8/15/2006).

Protagen Opens US Office in New Jersey
Protagen expanded its operations into the United States with a new office to handle sales and distribution in Chester, NJ, the company said this week.
The new office will initially focus its distribution efforts on the East Coast, the company said.
The New Jersey office will be headed by Howard Jacobsen and supported by Rick Garretson, Protagen’s US account manager.
This office is the first facility operating abroad for the Dortmund, Germany-based protein biochip company.

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.