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Illumina, Avantome, CombiMatrix, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Protagen, Integrated DNA Technologies, Almac Diagnostics

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Illumina Files for Share Offering, Closes Avantome Acquisition
 
Illumina has filed a shelf registration with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed public offering of 3.5 million shares of common stock, the firm said this week.
 
The San Diego-based firm said that the underwriter would be granted the right to purchase up to an additional 525,000 shares as part of the offering. All of the shares would be offered by Illumina. Goldman, Sachs is acting as sole manager of the offering.
 
The firm did not say when it expects to launch the offering. Based on its closing price of $92.74 on Friday, Illumina expects net proceeds of around $316 million. If the underwriter exercises the over-allotment option, net proceeds would be roughly $363 million.
 
Illumina said in its SEC filing that it intends to use the proceeds from the offering to fund R&D efforts, expand its manufacturing capacity, and for working capital needs. It also said that it may use the money to acquire, license, or invest in other businesses, technologies, or products.
 
Adjusted for the 3.5 million shares that would be offered to the public, Illumina’s outstanding shares as of June 29 were 68,053,019.
 
Last month, Illumina said that its board of directors had approved a two-for-one stock split that will be effected in the form of a stock dividend. The firm said the split is subject to shareholders approving an increase in the number of authorized shares of Illumina’s common stock from 120 million to 500 million.
 
The same day that it announced the proposed stock split, Illumina reported a 66 percent increase in second-quarter revenues to $140.2 million. It also announced that day that it was acquiring Avantome, a privately held developer of low-cost, long read-length sequencing technology (see BAN 7/29/2008).
 
Illumina said this week that its purchase of Avantome was completed on Aug.1.
 

 
CombiMatrix Snags $250K Grant from DARPA
 
The US Department of Defense has given CombiMatrix a $250,000 grant to conduct a proof-of-concept program to find new uses for the company’s microarray technology, the company said today.
 
The funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is focused on using its ElectraSense reader and its array technology to “explore largely uncharted capabilities and applications that are inherent in our core technologies," CombiMatrix’s Homeland Security and Defense Programs Director David Danley said in a statement.
 
The goal is to develop molecular synthesis technology with CombiMatrix’s electrochemical detection techniques to create label-free detection systems for use in diagnostics, chemical measurement, and chemical agent detection, the company said.
 
"While there are specific military needs and goals associated with this contract, the success of this program will enable commercial non-military applications and products addressing markets such as diagnostics, chemical sensing, analytics, and others,” CombiMatrix CEO Amit Kumar said in a statement.
 
Kumar also said the company hopes that if this program is successful it will lead to additional grants and contracts from the DoD.
 

 
Protagen Closes Round of Financing
 
Dortmund, Germany-based Protagen said today that it has closed a new round of financing with existing institutional investors MIG, S-Venture Capital Dortmund, and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau.
 
The firm did not disclose how much money it raised in the financing, but said it would use proceeds to strengthen and expand its UNIarray technology position and development of diagnostics.
 
The UNIarray is a platform for diagnostics based on autoantibody patterns, and is also used in companion diagnostics and patient stratification for clinical studies, the firm said.
 
The firm is working on tests for prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Morbus Parkinson, and Alzheimer’s disease (see BAN 1/22/2008).
 

 
Integrated DNA Technologies Expands European Oligo Production Facility
 
Integrated DNA Technologies said last week that it has completed the expansion of its European oligonucleotide production facility in Haasrode Research Park in Leuven, Belgium.
 
The oligonucleotide developer, headquartered in Coralville, Iowa, said the 21,500-square-foot facility will allow it to provide better services for its customers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
 
Bonnie Barney, IDT’s senior vice president of European sales and marketing, said that the company now employs 20 staffers in Europe and that the new facility gives it the ability to produce around 4,000 oligos daily.
 
The company also said it has expanded its direct sales force in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and in the Benelux countries, but did not provide further details.
 

 
Almac Embarking on Study to ID Prognostic Lung Cancer Signature
 
Northern Ireland-based translational genomics company Almac Diagnostics announced last week that it is embarking on an international, multi-center collaborative lung cancer study aimed at finding a prognostic gene expression signature for patients with early non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of lung cancer.
 
Research centers in the US, Canada, Asia, and Europe will participate in the study, which is being led by Queen’s University Belfast medical oncologist Dean Fennell. The team will analyze more than 1,500 non-small cell lung cancer tumor samples obtained from 15 research centers using Almac’s Cancer DSA microarray platform in an effort to identify a gene expression signature that predicts which patients will go on to have disease-free survival after surgery and which will relapse.
 
That signature, in turn, may lay the groundwork for a clinical test based on molecular subtypes that would aid in identifying high-risk patients who would most likely benefit from additional adjuvant treatment.
 
“While it is now accepted that the use of adjuvant chemotherapy reduces the risk of recurrence in a minority of patients, no routinely used molecular test exists to select those patients at a high risk of recurrence,” Fennell said in a statement. “This large-scale gene expression study will generate the first such test capable of identifying patients with high risk NSCLC.”
 
The collaborators hope to develop a clinical test that will be submitted to international regulatory bodies for approval by 2010, Fennell added.
 
The Almac Cancer DSA array includes tens of thousands of transcripts that have been previously linked to lung cancer and allows the analysis of formalin fixed, paraffin embedded tissue.

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