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Nanogen, Epoch, German Resource Center for Genome Research, Children s Hospital of Boston, Luminex, Genospectra, EPO, Applera, Nanomix, Ocimum, Genome Explorations, Bioforce


Nanogen, Epoch Postpone Merger Vote for One Week; Quorum Not Reached

Nanogen and Epoch Biosciences adjourned their special shareholder meetings last Wednesday and postponed until Dec. 15 a vote on their merger after an insufficient number of stockholders were present or represented by proxy at the Nanogen meeting.

Epoch, which also postponed the vote until Dec. 15, had reached a quorum at its special shareholder meeting and had sufficient votes to approve the merger.

Nanogen said holders of the majority of the issued and outstanding Nanogen common stock entitled to vote, either in person or represented by proxy, represent the quorum — in this case 16.7 million shares — necessary for transaction of business at the meeting. The firm issued a release this week saying it was still 600,000 votes shy of the 16.7 million votes needed to increase the number of authorized Nanogen shares — a necessary condition for completion of the merger.

The San Diego-based firm noted that more than 90 percent of the proxies received have been in favor of the merger and related issues.

The companies can legally extend the vote for about 30 days if needed, Robert Saltmarsh, Nanogen’s vice president of corporate development, told BioArray News last week. But, “I suspect we will reach a quorum [Dec. 15],” he added.

Saltmarsh said that perhaps one of the reasons the firm was unable to reach a quorum was due to its large retail shareholder base — in other words, a lot of owners of small blocks of shares — making it more difficult to reach some of those shareholders. “Those who we have found, and who are voting, are voting overwhelmingly” in favor of the merger, he said.

German Center to Offer NimbleGen Microarray Services

The German Resource Center for Genome Research will be the exclusive distributor in Germany and Austria of microarray analysis services offered by US-based NimbleGen Systems.

NimbleGen produces custom high-density DNA microarrays and offers a complete service that includes chip design, sample preparation, hybridization, scanning, data extraction, and preliminary data analysis. According to the German Center, customers can choose from more than 125 microarray catalog designs for prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms, or they can choose to have their microarray custom designed “at little to no extra cost.”

The agreement is the latest in a series of significant events for privately held NimbleGen. The firm raised $12.75 million in a series F private financing announced on Nov. 1; it recently launched custom services utilizing its ENCODE array; and it is expected to benefit from Affymetrix’s recent announcement that it introduced 179 NimbleExpress prokaryotic array designs. The arrays are manufactured by NimbleGen for Affymetrix under a pact signed earlier this year that will enable researchers to study the whole-genome expression of many pathogenic organisms such as Bacillus anthracis, Haemophilus influenzae, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (see BAN 12/1/2004).

Microarrays to Feature in Boston Hospital’s Genetic Study of Autism

The Children’s Hospital of Boston has launched a one-to-two-year study to attempt to pin down the genetic and biochemical causes of autism.

Researchers at the Children’s Hospital plan to enroll 100 to 150 children aged two years and older, along with their parents and affected siblings, into the study. In addition, 150 unaffected children will be enrolled to serve as controls.

In the first part of the study, detailed behavioral evaluations will be made of the children and their families. Researchers, led by Janice Ware and Leonard Rappaport, will assess the subjects for autistic spectrum disorders and carefully classify them according to rigorous clinical research criteria with the goal of developing behavioral profiles that can be correlated with genetic data.

In the second part of the study, researchers led by Ingrid Holm and Louis Kunkel will study DNA samples and perform association and linkage studies to look for genetic differences that are shared within families and differences that may accompany clinical manifestations of autistic spectrum disorders.

In addition, a microarray study of RNA from white blood cells will be performed to examine differences in gene expression among autistic children, their parents and matched control subjects. Researchers will examine 60,000 genes simultaneously and seek to find patterns, or genetic “signatures,” that mark the different autistic spectrum disorders.

Luminex, Genospectra to Co-Market Quantitative Gene-Expression Platform

Luminex and Genospectra have penned a partnership designed to better enable researchers to detect and quantify mRNA in cells, BioArray News’ sister publication GenomeWeb News learned last week.

The agreement, which has not yet been announced, will see Genospectra apply Luminex’ bead-based fluorescence-detection system to its QuantiGene cell-based gene expression-profiling assays, Grant Gibson, director of technical marketing for Luminex, said at the American Society for Cell Biology meeting, held in Washington DC.

Gibson said the collaboration represents “the first application of Luminex’s technology for quantitative gene-expression” applications.

QuantiGene is based on branched DNA technology, in which a molecular probe has many branches of DNA on one end, and an oligonucleotide probe molecule on the other end designed to bind a specific target. For QuantiGene, the target is mRNA in fresh cell lysates, tissue samples, or archived paraffin-embedded tissues.

The branched DNA is currently detected with a chemiluminescent probe, which allows for sensitive detection of minute quantities of RNA without the need to perform PCR.

In combination with Luminex’ platform, Gibson said, the branched DNA would be detected using multi-colored Luminex beads that are subsequently read on the company’s Luminex 100 instrument, which the firms expect will enable highly multiplexed assays and sensitive detection capabilities.

Gibson characterized the relationship as being similar to almost all of Luminex’s other agreements. “We typically don’t sell instruments directly to customers, but instead partner with specific application providers that have validated the platform with their technology.”

Luminex and Genospectra will co-market the product, and Luminex will receive royalty fees stemming from sales of the combined platform, Gibson said.

EPO Revokes Applera’s Real-Time PCR Thermal Cycler Patent

The European Patent Office has revoked an Applera patent covering real-time PCR thermal cycler technology, Applied Biosystems said last week.

The agency, based in Munich, Germany, revoked European Patent No. 872562.

“We disagree with the EPO’s ruling and will seek to have the patent reinstated through the appeal process,” Catherine Burzik, president of ABI, said in a statement.

In June, ABI obtained injunctions from a German court that enjoined Bio-Rad Laboratories, MJ Research, and Biozym, an MJ Research distributor in Germany, from manufacturing and selling thermal cyclers for real-time PCR. The court found that the defendants infringed a German patent corresponding to European Patent No. 872562, issued to ABI’s parent company Applera in September 2002.

The actions are part of a global effort by Applera to enforce its intellectual property in instrumentation used for real-time PCR. In November, Applera received a US patent covering its real-time PCR instrumentation, and then filed suit against Bio-Rad, Bio-Rad subsidiary MJ Research, and Stratagene for allegedly infringing the patent.

Nanomix Licenses Biomolecule Detection Technology

Nanomix has signed an exclusive licensing agreement to use and develop a biomolecule detection technology developed by George Gruner, a physics professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and chief science officer of Nanomix, which is based in Emeryville, Calif.

Nanomix will develop the technology for the detection of molecules such as DNA and proteins, the company said in a statement. Financial terms of the licensing agreement were not disclosed.

Ocimum, Genome Explorations to Offer Microarray Analysis Services in India

Ocimum Biosolutions of India and US-based Genome Explorations will collaborate to provide microarray gene expression services to researchers in India, Ocimum said today.

Under the agreement, Ocimum will initially distribute Genome Explorations’ gene expression services to customers in India, sending samples for analysis to Genome Explorations’ Memphis, Tenn.-based facility. The partners plan to eventually open a microarray profiling facility in India.

Bioforce Completes Bridge Financing

BioForce Nanosciences has completed a $1.5 million bridge financing round, the company said last week.

BioForce said the financing, which is part of a larger, ongoing funding effort, will be used to support new product launches and to introduce the NanoArrayer biomolecular printing system.

The Scan

Study Follows Consequences of Early Confirmatory Trials for Accelerated Approval Indications

Time to traditional approval or withdrawal was shorter when confirmatory trials started prior to accelerated approval, though overall regulatory outcomes remained similar, a JAMA study finds.

Sequencing Study Leads to Vaccine Target in Bacteria Behind Neonatal Meningitis

Researchers eBioMedicine track down potential vaccine targets with transposon sequencing on mutant bacteria causing neonatal meningitis in mouse models of the disease.

Multiple Myeloma Progression Influenced by Immune Microenvironment Expression

Researchers in NPJ Genomic Medicine compare RNA sequencing profiles of 102,207 individual cells in bone marrow samples from 18 individuals with rapid or non-progressing multiple myeloma.

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.