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Illumina, Solexa, Almac Diagnostics, GeneGo, CombiMatrix, Quidel, U of Colorado

Illumina Passes Antitrust Hurdle to Acquire Solexa; Licenses OGT SNP Genotyping Patents
Illumina last month said it has received clearance under Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust regulations to continue with its proposed acquisition of Solexa.
The company also said Solexa and Illumina shareholders will vote on aspects of the $600 million acquisition on Jan. 26.
According to Illumina, Solexa shareholders will meet to consider and vote on the deal, while Illumina stockholders will meet to consider issuing Illumina shares to Solexa stockholders.
The companies agreed to the acquisition in November (see BAN 11/14/2006).
Meantime,Illumina has licensed Oxford Gene Technology patents that will enable Illumina to detect DNA sequence variations, OGT said last month.
Under the deal, OGT has granted Illumina access to the property through the life of the patents and provides “certain rights with respect to SNP genotyping,” OGT said.
Illumina CEO Jay Flatley said the licensing agreement is “relevant to a portion of our products and will not materially impact our expected financial results."
Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Almac Diagnostics Licenses GeneGo's MetaCore
GeneGo said last month that Almac Diagnostics, a division of Almac Group, has licensed its MetaCore data-mining platform.
Almac Diagnostics will use MetaCore to help develop its microarray-based products diagnosing and treating cancer. The company will also use the platform in its genomic services division.
Almac Diagnostics, formerly ArraDx, is an ISO-certified Affymetrix service provider and is currently developing diagnostics based on Affy's GeneChip platform (see BAN 4/4/2006).
Financial terms of the agreement with GeneGo were not provided.

CombiMatrix Files Plans to Split with Parent Acacia
With SEC; Cancels $50M Equity Deal with VC Group
CombiMatrix last week filed an S-1 form with the US Securities and Exchange Commission outlining its plans to split from parent company Acacia Research.
Currently a wholly owned subsidiary of the Newport Beach, Calif., firm, CombiMatrix said in its SEC filing that it will no longer be an affiliate of Acacia after the split off.
Combimatrix will apply to list its common stock on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol CBMX. Each issued and outstanding share of Acacia Research-CombiMatrix common stock will be redeemed for a share of CombiMatrix stock.
Acacia’s board of directors voted to split off CombiMatrix last January.
The transaction was originally expected to close in the second quarter of 2006. CombiMatrix did not provide an updated target date for the proposed spin-off in last week's filing.
In the filing, CombiMatrix said that Acacia’s business “is significantly different than our business” and “includes significant patent litigation that, by its nature, creates financial risks not otherwise associated with the CombiMatrix group or our company following the redemption.”
The split off is expected to prevent those future risks from affecting Combimatrix, the company said. CombiMatrix said that no stockholder approval is required for the split.
Meanwhile, CombiMatrix recently cancelled its standby equity distribution with Cornell Capital Partners, thereby forfeiting a $50 million windfall.
The company said in mid-June that it would sell as much as $50 million worth of its registered shares at a 2.5-percent discount to Cornell (see BAN 6/20/2006). CombiMatrix President and CEO Amit Kumar said at the time that the cash would “provide us the flexibility to access additional capital at our discretion.”
The firms did not say why they decided to cancel the agreement.

Quidel Licenses U of Colorado's MChip for Point-of-Care Flu Testing
Diagnostic test provider Quidel said last month that it has signed an exclusive, worldwide license for the MChip microarray-based influenza detection technology developed by scientists at the University of Colorado and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The company said it plans to develop and market molecular-based diagnostic tests based on the MChip for use in pandemic surveillance, as a tool for clinical labs, and for point-of-care use in physicians’ offices.
According to Quidel, the MChip offers several advantages over other array-based influenza tests, which typically use sequences from three influenza genes — hemagglutinin, neuraminidase, and matrix. The MChip only uses sequences from the matrix genes, which are more conserved than the quickly mutating hemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes, Quidel said.
“A diagnostic test based on this relatively stable gene segment should be more robust because it will continue to provide accurate results … and will require less frequent reconfiguration,” Quidel said. The company said that the MChip is also able to simultaneously type and subtype the flu virus in a single procedure.
In validation studies conducted with the CDC, the University of Colorado has so far correctly identified 24 different H5N1 flu strains with 97 percent sensitivity, 100 percent specificity, and no reported false positives, Quidel said.
Caren Mason, president and CEO of Quidel, said in a statement that the agreement “strategically positions” the firm “with an important technology and tool in the molecular diagnostic field."
BioArray News spoke with MChip co-developer Erica Dawson about the array last month (see BAN 12/5/2006).

The Scan

Nucleotide Base Detected on Near-Earth Asteroid

Among other intriguing compounds, researchers find the nucleotide uracil, a component of RNA sequences, in samples collected from the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu, as they report in Nature Communications.

Clinical Trial Participants, Investigators Point to Importance of Clinical Trial Results Reporting in Canadian Study

Public reporting on clinical trial results is crucial, according to qualitative interviews with clinical trial participants, investigators, and organizers from three provinces appearing in BMJ Open.

Old Order Amish Analysis Highlights Autozygosity, Potential Ties to Blood Measures

Researchers in BMC Genomics see larger and more frequent runs-of-homozygosity in Old Order Amish participants, though only regional autozygosity coincided with two blood-based measures.

Suicidal Ideation-Linked Loci Identified Using Million Veteran Program Data

Researchers in PLOS Genetics identify risk variants within and across ancestry groups with a genome-wide association study involving veterans with or without a history of suicidal ideation.