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Nanogen, Affymetrix, Definiens, Ontario Government, Lakehead University, Gentana, Monsanto, Li-Cor Biosciences, Biolog


Nanogen Shares Spike Up on European Patent News

Shares in Nanogen closed up Monday 22.28 percent, or $.88, in heavy-volume trade after the company said its SynX subsidiary had won a European patent.

The stock closed at $4.83 on the Nasdaq exchange as almost 6 million shares traded hands — compared to the average share volume of 636,863 for the past three months. The shares receded somewhat on Tuesday afternoon, falling 7.5 percent, or $.36, to $4.47.

The patent, called “Method for Diagnosing and Distinguishing Stroke,” covers a “diagnostic kit and method of measuring the presence of both an ischemic marker and a brain endothelial cell membrane protein to indicate that a patient has suffered a stroke,” Nanogen said in a statement. The IP is also designed to show “whether it was an ischemic or hemorrhagic cerebral event.”

In October the US Patent and Trademark Office granted SynX a patent for “similar claims” related to the “rapid, point-of-care stoke diagnostic test that the company is developing for emergency medicine.” The patent covers a method and a diagnostic kit for analyzing the levels of proteins released from the brain during a neurovascular event. “By measuring the presence of an ischemic marker protein such as a myelin basic protein, S100 protein, neuronal specific enolase, or similar molecules, and a brain endothelial membrane protein such as thrombomodulin or a similar molecule, a physician can determine the occurrence of a stroke,” Nanogen said.

Last week, the firm was issued a US patent covering methods and technologies for coupling optical waveguides with a DNA microarray used for performing biological operations and illuminating it at an angle that allows the size and complexity of the diagnostic instrument to be reduced (see p. 3 for more information).

Affymetrix Convertible Note Holders to Sell Some Notes

Several holders of Affymetrix’s 0.75 percent senior convertible notes due 2033 and 3,869,172 shares of common stock issuable upon conversion of the notes have filed a prospectus stating their intention to sell their notes “from time to time.”

According to a prospectus supplement filed last week by Affymetrix, the note holders are selling $120 million of the convertible notes. The most significant holdings being offered are $9 million worth of notes, or 7.5 percent of the total amount issued, by Advent Convertible Master. Another 2.1 percent of the notes are being offered by S.A.C. Arbitrage Fund.

Affymetrix said the prospectus supplement should be read in conjunction with the prospectus for the convertible notes dated May 20, 2004.

Definiens Partners with Beecher on Tissue Microarray Software

Definiens will partner with tissue microarray-instrumentation provider Beecher Instruments to develop software for tissue microarray image analysis, the firm said last week.

Under the terms of the agreement, Beecher is using Definiens’ Cognition Network Technology to develop applications for automated tissue microarray analysis.

Current image analysis software requires extensive user interaction to properly identify cell populations, select regions of interest for scoring, optimize analysis parameters, and organize the resulting raw data, Definiens said. The suite of tools that Beecher has developed with Definiens’ technology, called TMAx, can automate this process, according to the companies.

Ontario Government Awards Lakehead University $290k for DNA Chip Facility

The Ontario government has awarded CA$343,300 ($289,771) to Lakehead University to purchase equipment and undertake renovations for the establishment of DNA sequencing chip research facilities, Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines said last week.

The government “is pleased to support the expansion of Lakehead University’s DNA facilities, which will further enhance the region’s life sciences sector,” Rick Bartolucci, Ontario’s Northern Development minister, said in a statement. “Initiatives such as this will help attract an increasing number of physicians, researchers, academics, and private sector research facilities to Northwestern Ontario.”

The award will be made through the Paleo-DNA Laboratory and in cooperation with Genesis Genomics, the MNDM said.

Monsanto Completes Pilot Study of Gentana’s Gene-Mapping Technology

Gentana said this week that Monsanto has completed a pilot study of its gene-mapping technology.

In the study, Monsanto’s seed business evaluated Gentana’s technology for gene-expression profiling. Gentana said that Monsanto delivered “a positive report.”

Thorsten Storck, COO at Gentana, told Bioarray News’ sister publication GenomeWeb News that Monsanto is currently “working on the results of the study,” and that no additional agreement for his company’s technology has been signed. He declined to comment further.

Li-Cor Sets Aside $2 Million for Educational Grant

Li-Cor Biosciences is offering $2 million to undergraduate colleges and high schools as part of its Genomics Education Matching Fund program.

According to the company, the program funding is to be used to acquire Li-Cor DNA sequencing systems and software for use by students studying molecular biology and related fields. Last year, the program’s first, Li-Cor awarded $1.25 million to colleges, technical schools, and high schools in the US.

Li-Cor said it will award grants on a matching-funds basis during 2005. Eligible institutions must demonstrate how they will use the company’s products to teach undergraduate or high school students.

Biolog Enlists Japanese Research Groups to Study E. coli Genome

Biolog has enlisted the help of two Japanese research groups to phenotype the E. coli genome, the company said this week.

Biolog will use its Phenotype MicroArray to study the organism, which comprises more than 4,000 genes. It will rely on the E. coli K-12 data held by the Nara Institute, based in Nara. The resulting data will be organized and cataloged by Axiohelix, based in Tokyo.

The first 100 genes will be analyzed by March 2005, and it “hopes” that the phenotypic analysis will be expanded in 2005 to include the entire E. coli genome, the company said.

The Phenotype MicroArray is designed to determine cellular phenotypic expression, which may be used to study how drugs affect cells.


The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.