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Illumina, AutoGenomics, Med BioGene, VWR, Tecan, U of Illinois, Gene-IT, BioIT Alliance, North Carolina Biotechnology Center

Illumina to Offer $350M in Convertible Notes; Will Use $202M to Repurchase Shares
Illumina plans to sell $350 million in convertible senior notes to help pay for corporate expenses, the company said this week.
The convertible senior notes will pay interest semiannually at a rate of 0.625 percent per year and are due in 2014. Illumina also granted the initial purchasers a 30-day option to purchase up to $50 million of additional notes to cover overallotments.
The offering is scheduled to close on Feb. 16, 2007.
Illumina estimates that the net proceeds from the offering will be around $341 million after deducting fees and expenses. The company said it expects to use around $202 million of the proceeds to purchase shares of its common stock in privately negotiated transactions.
Around $41 million of the proceeds will be used to fund convertible note hedge transactions and warrant transactions.
The company intends to use the balance of the net proceeds for other general corporate purposes, “which may include acquisitions and additional purchases of our common stock,” Illumina said in a statement.

AutoGenomics Receives FDA 510(k) Clearance for Infiniti Assay for Factor II & Factor V
AutoGenomics this week announced that it has obtained 510(k) clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to sell its Infiniti System Assay for Factor II & Factor V as an in vitro diagnostic device.
The Infiniti System Assay for Factor II & Factor V is indicated for use as an aid in the diagnosis of patients with suspected thrombophilia, AutoGenomics said.
The Infiniti system includes the company’s Infiniti Analyzer, BioFilmChip microarray, PCR primers, a thermal cycler, an imager, and software for detecting and genotyping of Factor II prothrombin G20210A and Factor V Leiden G1691A point mutations in DNA obtained from human blood samples.
AutoGenomics has already submitted another 510(k) application to the
FDA for its Infiniti System Assay for 2C9/VKORC1 and is considering additional applications for its expanding test menu (see BAN 11/14/2006).

Canadian Gov't Grants Med BioGene $262K to Develop CVD Biomarkers
Diagnostics developer Med BioGene has received a CA$307,000 ($262,000) grant from the Canadian government to develop biomarkers to help physicians detect and manage cardiovascular disease, the company said last week.
The grant came from the National Research Council Canada Industrial Assistance Program.
MBI, based in Vancouver, BC, said it is working with CVD patient samples provided by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute to confirm its biomarkers.
Company President and CSO Nathan Yoganathan said he expects genetic biomarkers for CVD to be "an invaluable tool for periodic screening" for high-risk patients, or patients with early, mid-, or late-stage CVD.
Yoganathan said such a diagnostic would be a "first step" for cardiologists, who may then pursue more specific tests on patients found to be at risk. The test also could be used to prevent patients not at risk from undergoing “unnecessary and invasive testing," Yoganathan said.
MBI said it uses its gene expression-profiling system to develop and validate biomarkers for cardiovascular disease, lymphoma, and leukemia.

VWR and Tecan Sign Global Distribution Agreement
Tecan and VWR International last week said that they have entered into a “strategic alliance” that will enable VWR to distribute Tecan's microarray instruments and microplate readers to the global research market through its BioSciences program.
According to the partners, Tecan’s products will now be offered through the program, which is built on a global sales network of more than 120 sales representatives worldwide and 15 BioSciences managers in Europe.

U of Illinois Purchases 3rd Millennium’s Array Repository and Data Analysis System
3rd Millennium said this week that the Center for Comparative and Functional Genomics at the University of Illinois has purchased its Array Repository and Data Analysis System (ARDAS).

The CCFG conducts research on the comparative genetic organization, evolution and function of plant, animal, and microbial genomes. The company said the center will use ARDAS’ microarray data acquisition, management, and analysis tools, which include a laboratory information management system, a repository and data warehouse, and an analysis information management system.

Financial details of the deal were not discussed.

Gene-IT Joins BioIT Alliance
Gene-IT this week said that it has joined the BioIT Alliance, a group of biotech and IT companies working with Microsoft to advance biomedical information technology.
Gene-IT president and CEO Ronald Ranauro said the biomedical industry "has long needed more conceptual and technological advances along collaborative lines, and we feel that the Alliance is an excellent initiative in this direction."
Other BioIT Alliance members include Applied Biosystems, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Affymetrix, Agilent and other biomedical informatics, tools and services companies.

UNC Scientists Awarded Array-Related NC BiotechCenter Research Grants
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded $1.9 million in institutional development grants to North Carolinian researchers last week, including more than $60,000 that went towards sponsoring array-based research.
Kathleen Conway Dorsey, a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, received $34,239 for development of an Affymetrix molecular inversion probe technology for targeted high-throughput genotyping and comparative genomic hybridization.

Meantime, Lee Graves, another UNC-Chapel Hill researcher, has received $27,447 towards the development of an antibody microarray analysis facility. According to the center, Graves seeks to develop antibody arrays to “study cancer cell markers and to test and evaluate novel anticancer drugs.”

The Scan

Sick Newborns Selected for WGS With Automated Pipeline

Researchers successfully prioritized infants with potential Mendelian conditions for whole-genome sequencing or rapid whole-genome sequencing, as they report in Genome Medicine.

Acne-Linked Loci Found Through GWAS Meta-Analysis

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics find new and known acne vulgaris risk loci with a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis, highlighting hair follicle- and metabolic disease-related genes.

Retina Cell Loss Reversed by Prime Editing in Mouse Model of Retinitis Pigmentosa

A team from China turns to prime editing to correct a retinitis pigmentosa-causing mutation in the PDE6b gene in a mouse model of the progressive photoreceptor loss condition in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

CRISPR Screens Reveal Heart Attack-Linked Gene

Researchers in PLOS Genetics have used CRISPR screens to home in on variants associated with coronary artery disease that affect vascular endothelial function.