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Ilumina, TM Bioscience, Caliper, Zymark, Biolog, Enzo, Q-RNA, Galapagos Genomics, Chondrogene, Novartis, Altana Pharma


Ilumina Rolls Out Sentrix BeadChip Platform

San Diego-based Illumina last week introduced its Sentrix BeadChip platform, a standard microarray slide format that utilizes the company’s array-of-arrays technology. The BeadChip array has a novel substrate that provides a support for microfabricated wells into which beads coated with immobilized probe sequences are introduced as a platform for gene-expression profiling applications.


TM Bioscience Plans CA$5M Equity Offering

TM Bioscience of Toronto this week said that it will issue 22.7 million units consisting of one common share, and a warrant to purchase one half of one common share in a private placement. The units will price at $0.22 a share, with the warrant exercisable for $0.30 a share if used with 24 months after the June 26 closing of the offering. The company expects to raise CA$5 million (US $3.7 million) for use in commercializing microarray-based diagnostics products.


Caliper to Acquire Zymark in Bid to Merge Lab-on-a-Chip with Lab Automation

Microfluidic biochip maker Caliper Technologies of Mountain View, Calif., last week announced plans to acquire privately held lab automation firm Zymark from its parent firm, the Berwind Company of Philadelphia, for $57 million cash and 3.15 million shares of Caliper stock, a deal with a total value of about $72 million.

The transaction is to close in the third quarter, pending regulatory approval.

Zymark CEO, Kevin Hrusovsky, will become the CEO of the combined company, which will be based in Hopkinton, Mass. Zymark will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Caliper and will continue to sell lab automation products under its brand. Michael Knapp, CEO of Caliper, will become CTO. Jim Knighton, currently president and CFO of Caliper, will retain his position during the transition period. Dan Kisner will remain as chairman of Caliper’s board, and Caliper will appoint one nominee from Berwind to its board of directors.

Caliper said that Zymark’s lab automation product line and sales force would provide a broader commercial outlet for its own microfluidic LabChip platform and would allow Caliper to set a target for profitability by the end of 2004.

Zymark had 2002 revenues of $65.4 million while Caliper posted revenues of $25.8 million, down from $29.6 million in 2001.


Biolog Granted $250,000 SBIR for Phenotype MicroArray Platform

Hayward, Calif.-based Biolog has received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant of $250,000 from the National Cancer Institute for a project using its Phenotype MicroArray platform for toxicological cell-based assays, the company said last week. The grant will support development of the technology for use with human and mouse cell lines. It is currently used with bacteria, yeast, and filamentous fungi.

According to Biolog, the technology can be used to determine the effect of genetic changes on cells and to determine the effect of drugs on cells.


Enzo to Upgrade GeneBeam Labeling Kits

Enzo Life Sciences of Farmingdale, NY, has completed development and expects early this summer to release additions to its GeneBeam cDNA labeling kits for microarray analysis, the company said last week.

These kits will lower background “noise” utilizing Enzo’s proprietary cyanine dye nucleotides. This fall the company anticipates the introduction of a novel amplification system for genetic analysis that will be marketed to pharmaceutical and academic researchers. It would facilitate the use of minute genetic material with a high degree of integrity, which is not currently available. A patent application is pending on this product, the company said.


Q-RNA Raises $2.6M in Series B Funding

New York-based Q-RNA, a developer of RNA ligand technology, last week announced the closing of $2.6 million in Series B financing contingent on the filing of a patent application, the company said.

Investors in the company included Durand Venture Associates of Delaware, Wheatley Partners of New York, and Double D Venture Fund, also of New York. Douglas Durand, managing director of Durand Venture Associates, joined the Q-RNA board.


Galapagos Genomics to Provide Procter & Gamble with Drug Targets

Galapagos Genomics will provide Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals with protein drug targets related to osteoporosis, the Mechelen, Belgium, company announced last week.

Galapagos has discovered these targets using PhenoSelect, its gene expression platform which uses arrayed adenoviruses containing human genes to identify and validate targets.

Under the agreement, Galapagos will provide Procter & Gamble with protein targets that impact bone formation. Procter & Gamble will validate the targets and may initiate development of osteoporosis drug candidates based on these targets.

Galapagos is to receive option fees, milestone payments, and royalties on sales of any products developed from these targets, the company said, but did not disclose further financial terms of the deal.


Chondrogene Completes CA$3M Private Placement

Toronto-based Chondrogene this week announced the completion of a CA $3 million (US $2.2 million) private placement previously announced in April. The initial closing of $2 million was completed on May 26. ChondroGene’s Chairman, Rory Riggs, took up the remaining $1 million of the private placement at $0.50 per share as previously disclosed.

The company is commercializing a human cartilage-specific microarray, the ChondroChip, and is continuing to characterize the gene expression of novel and known genes of the human cartilage cell in both health and disease.


Novartis Extends License Agreement with Compugen

Novartis Pharma has extended its license for Compugen’s LEADS computational biology platform for an additional year, Compugen said last week.

The collaboration between the two firms, which began in August 2001, will also be expanded to include DNA probe design. Under the renewed agreement, Compugen said it would design a genome-wide collection of DNA probes for Novartis based on data from its transcriptome analysis research, which accounts for alternative splicing and naturally occurring antisense.


Altana Opens Research Institute near Boston with Focus on Genomics, Proteomics

Altana Pharma, the pharmaceutical division of Altana, last week opened a research center in Waltham, Mass., which will focus on genomics and proteomics as well as bioinformatics. The center, called Altana Research Institute, is part of a five-and-a-half-year collaboration between Constance, Germany-based Altana Pharma and Munich-based GPC Biotech. Work on the center, which houses about 50 scientists, began in November 2001. Altana, of Bad Homburg, Germany, will invest a total of about $120 million in the institute.

The Scan

Cell Atlas of Human Lung Development Gives View of Developing Airway

Researchers have generated a cell atlas of human lung development, which they report in Cell.

Study Finds Costs of Genome Sequencing May Limit Utility in Routine Care

Researchers report in the European Journal of Human Genetics that genome sequencing for rare disease diagnoses currently has similar benefits as less expensive exome analysis.

Study Suggests Nursing Mother's Diet Can Impact Offspring's Gut Microbiome

A new Cell Host and Microbe paper finds that mice whose mothers were fed a low-fiber diet during nursing experience lasting microbiota dysbiosis and increased obesity.

Study Links Genetic Risk for ADHD With Alzheimer's Disease

A higher polygenic risk score for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is also linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, a new study in Molecular Psychiatry finds.