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Invitrogen, Agilent Technologies and NCI, DNA Chip Research and Toray, and The Broad Institute


Invitrogen Reorganizes in Attempt to Better Connect With Customers

Invitrogen has reorganized its business and formed three new divisions out of its traditional BioDiscovery and BioProduction business units, the company said this week.

As of Jan. 1, 2006, Invitrogen's new units will be called Life Sciences, Bio-Production Systems and Services, and Enabling Technologies division, and each will have its own manufacturing, R&D, and marketing functions, Invitrogen said.

"This realignment allows us to focus our development and commercial efforts along key technology workflows in order to help researchers shape the protocols of tomorrow's medical breakthroughs," Greg Lucier, chairman and CEO of Invitrogen, said in a statement.

The Life Sciences segment will focus on molecular biology and biomedical applications, including cloning and protein expression, protein analysis, gene-expression profiling, and drug discovery tools. Jon Hindar, who served as CEO of recent Invitrogen acquisition Dynal Corporation, will serve as senior vice president of Life Sciences.

It was not immediately clear whether lay-offs are part of the reorganization.

Bio-Production Systems and Services will include the current Gibco and BioReliance products and services, as well as Invitrogen's bioproduction process development initiative, Invitrogen said. Nicolas Barthelemy, currently head of global operations for Invitrogen, will lead the division.

Enabling Technologies will focus on nanotechnology, imaging and microscopy, cell separation and analysis, labeling and detection, bead-based separations, and the antibody center of excellence. This division will include the Molecular Probes, Dynal, BioSource, and Quantum Dot brands, Invitrogen said. John Miller will be senior vice president of Enabling Technologies. Miller comes to Invitrogen from rival BD Biosciences, where he was vice president and general manager for the Americas.

The divisions will also be integrated with technology "sales specialist teams" that provide scientific expertise in targeted research areas, the company said.

In addition, last week Invitrogen purchased $100 million of its 2.25 percent convertible subordinate notes due 2006. This transaction reduces the company's full-diluted shares outstanding by approximately 1 million shares for fiscal 2006, the company said.

Agilent Increases NCI's Access to Its Microarray Technology

Agilent Technologies has expanded the National Cancer Institute's access to its microarray technology program, the company said last week.

Under the program, NCI extramural researchers can obtain Agilent's microarray technology — including reagents, catalogs and custom microarrays, instrumentation, and software — for comparative genomic hybridization, location analysis, and gene expression.

The NCI funds approximately 4,500 research grants each year.

Researchers realize gene-expression data alone is not enough in cancer research, and that complementary microarray applications are necessary, the company said.

Agilent said it will offer researchers promotional pricing.

Separately, Agilent said last week it wrapped up the sale of its semiconductor products business to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Silver Lake Partners for $2.66 billion.

Originally scheduled to complete on Oct. 31, the divesture was delayed to December to "provide a seamless transition," the company said (see >BAN 10/19/2005).

The divestiture includes 6,500 employees and operations in Asia, the United States, and Europe.

DNA Chip Research, Toray Plan Human, Yeast Arrays

DNA Chip Research and Toray said this week that they have inked a joint research agreement and plan to introduce two organism-specific arrays in the near future.

According to a statement, DNA Chip and Toray — a Japanese textile, plastics, and chemicals firm that has been expanding into medical products — plan to commercialize a whole genome yeast chip by April 2006. The partners also said that they plan to launch a human genome chip with 10,000 to 30,000 genes in the future.

The agreement calls for Toray to integrate its microarray technology with DNA Chip Research's technology for synthesizing and designing oligonucleotide DNA. DNA Chip said that it developed the technology with the Research Institute of Genome-Based Biofactory of Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

Toray and DNA Chip Research also said they may develop array-based tests for the diagnosis of diseases, especially cancer and lifestyle-related diseases, over the next two years.

Broad Founders Give Institute Second $100M Gift; Lander Calls Cash 'Vote of Confidence'

The Broad Institute has received a second $100 million gift from institute founders Eli and Edythe Broad, the center said last week.

The Broad founders helped found the institute 18 months ago with an original $100 million gift.

According to the Broad, the combined gift will be doled out in $20-million blocks over the next 10 years. Eli Broad said that the couple decided to double the institute's funding because they were impressed by the "tremendous progress already made by the scientists and by the success of the new model for collaborative science involving Harvard and MIT."

Eric Lander, founding director of the institute, called the gift a "vote of confidence."

The Broad also said that a new Broad Institute building, located at 7 Cambridge Center in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass., is scheduled for completion in Spring 2006. In July, the institute said the center would be completed in January 2006.

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.