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Illumina, Avantome, 23andMe, Laboratory Corporation of America, Expression Analysis, NIH, Calibrant Biosystems, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Ipsogen

Illumina Posts 66 Percent Revenue, Profit Gain in Q2; Acquires Sequencing Startup
Illumina reported this week that its second-quarter revenues and profit each increased 66 percent year over year. The firm also said that it has acquired Avantome, a privately held developer of low-cost, long read-length sequencing technology.
Illumina brought in revenues of $140.2 million for the three months ended June 29, 2008, compared to revenues of $84.5 million for the second quarter of 2007.
The firm posted a profit of $15.4 million, or $.23 per share, compared to net earnings of $9.3 million, or $.16 per share, for the second quarter of 2007. The most recent quarter includes a $4.1 million charge of impairment of manufacturing equipment and a $2.7 million charge for amortization of intangible assets compared with a $662,000 charge in the second quarter of 2007 for amortization of intangible assets.
Illumina said in a statement that the impairment charge relates to the write-off of its prior generation manufacturing equipment, which resulted from “the faster than anticipated customer transition to the new Infinium HD product line.”
Illumina’s R&D costs rose 28.6 percent to $23.5 million from $18.2 million for the comparable period of 2007, while its SG&A expenses increased 52.8 percent to $35.6 million from $23.3 million.
The San Diego-based firm finished the quarter with $133 million in cash and cash equivalents.
Ilumina also announced that it will acquire DNA sequencing technology startup Avantome, which was co-founded by Mostafa Ronaghi, a senior research associate at the Stanford University Genome Technology Center. Under the terms of the acquisition, Illumina will make an up-front payment of $25 million and contingent payments of up to $35 million for Avantome.
Ronaghi has been developing a miniaturized pyrosequencer under a three-year, $1.8 million Advanced Sequencing Technology award that it received in 2004 from the National Human Genome Research Institute.
Ronaghi will join Illumina as senior vice president and chief technical officer following the deal, and Avantome co-founder Helmy Eltoukhy will join the firm as director of Avantome sequencing development.
Illumina expects to close the acquisition in the next few weeks.

LabCorp Takes Over as 23andMe's Genotyping Service Provider
Although 23andMe had kept mum for several months on which contract laboratory it has been using to conduct its DTC genomic testing services, Laboratory Corporation of America is providing the necessary genotyping services for the personal genomics company, according to BioArray News sister publication Pharmacogenomics Reporter.
Officials from both 23andMe and LabCorp confirmed last week that the lab testing giant is providing the genotyping services for 23andMe's service.
“I can confirm that we are doing lab work for 23andMe,” said Eric Lindblom, LabCorp’s senior vice president for investor and media relations.
Lindblom also noted that LabCorp is CLIA licensed in California and New York, the two states that recently warned 23andMe, along with several other personal genomics firms, to stop marketing genetic tests directly to consumers (see BAN 6/17/2008). One of the reasons cited by regulators was that the consumer genomics firms were not licensed in these states to provide laboratory services.
Perhaps due to these regulatory difficulties, 23andMe hadn’t been forthcoming about its relationship with LabCorp since cutting ties with Illumina, which was not CLIA licensed, in February. 23andMe, however, continues to use Illumina's genotyping chips.
Illumina had received one of the cease-and-desist letters from New York health regulators, but not California authorities.
23andMe expressed its apprehensions about the uncertain regulatory environment for consumer genomics in April on its blog, The Spittoon, apologizing to customers for delays in delivering test results. At the time, 23andMe attributed the delays to a change in laboratory (see BAN 4/29/2008).
“Because 23andMe is creating an entirely new kind of business in delivering personal genetic information, the regulatory requirements we face are both complicated and uncertain,” 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki said in the blog post. “Because of the way these requirements are evolving, we recently changed the laboratory where our customers’ saliva samples are processed.”
Although Wojcicki described the new contract laboratory as a “‘high complexity’ laboratory [certified] under the federal Clinical Laboratories Improvement Act of 1988,” she did not name the laboratory.
LabCorp also has partnerships with several firms across the country that offer genotyping services, including National Genetics Institute, which is based in Los Angeles and has CLIA certification in the state.

Expression Analysis to Provide Array Services for Immunity Genomics Project
Expression Analysis said last week that it will provide microarray expression profiling services for the Immunological Genome Project, a program funded by the National Institutes of Health.
IGP is a consortium focused on generating gene expression profiles and building genetic regulatory networks for immunological populations in the mouse. The project will generate a complete microarray dissection of gene expression in the mouse immune system.
It will focus on ex vivo cells that will be analyzed through different states of maturation, immune responses, different effector stages, and different tissue localization.
Expression Analysis provides its expression profiling, genotyping, and sequencing services using Illumina, Affymetrix, and Applied Biosystems’ technologies.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

Calibrant, AFIP Collaborate on Biomarkers
Calibrant Biosystems and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology will be collaborating on the discovery and development of novel protein biomarkers, Calibrant said last week.
Under a cooperative research and development agreement, the two parties will use Calibrant’s Gemini proteomics technology to evaluate and validate protein markers for a variety of unmet medical needs. The initial project will focus on brain cancer, with an ultimate goal of identifying predictive biomarkers for personalized medicine.
AFIP’s Tissue Microarray Laboratory will produce standard and custom tissue microarrays to Calibrant’s specifications. AFIP is an agency of the US Department of Defense, whose mission is consultation, education, and research.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Ipsogen Raises $18.7M in European IPO
French diagnostics firm Ipsogen last month raised €11.8 million ($18.7 million) in its initial public offering, according to a company official. The amount was nearly $4 million more than the company expected to gain in the IPO.
Jean-Marc Le Doussal, director of the Marseille firm’s breast cancer program, told BioArray News last week that Ipsogen wound up placing 1,634,718 shares with investors at a price of €7.20 per share.
Ipsogen has been trading on the Alternext market, a sub-market of the global NYSE Euronext market geared towards smaller to mid-sized companies, under the symbol ALIPS since June 16 (see BAN 6/3/2008).
According to Le Doussal, Ipsogen will spend the rest of the summer growing its global marketing team.

The Scan

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.

Study Explores Animated Digital Message Approach to Communicate Genetic Test Results to Family Members

In the Journal of Genetic Counseling, the approach showed promise in participants presented with a hypothetical scenario related to a familial hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome diagnosis.

Computational Tool Predicts Mammalian Messenger RNA Degradation Rates

A tool called Saluki, trained with mouse and human messenger RNA data, appears to improve mRNA half-life predictions by taking RNA and genetic features into account, a Genome Biology paper reports.

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.