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Nanogen, Illumina, Schott Nexterion, Accelr8 Technology, Axogenic, Univ. of Sydney, Invitrogen, Zyomyx, Natural Selection, Althea Technologies, XDx, Ciphergen, University of Miami

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Nanogen to Fund Nanotech Research at UCSD

Nanogen will provide $300,000 to support nanotechnology research at the University of California San Diego, the company said last week.

Over a two-year period, Nanogen will fund the research of Michael Heller, a professor in the department of bioengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD and a co-founder of Nanogen. He plans to explore the use of electric field-based technology for nanofabrication and the assembly of nanostructures as well as the integration of nanostructures with other devices.

Nanogen will have priority to obtain any intellectual property rights developed under the research agreement.

Nanogen said it holds over 40 US patents and patent applications based on intellectual property developed by Heller.


Punitive Damages Owed By Illumina for Wrongful Termination ‘Grossly Excessive,’ Court Says

Illumina stands to save $3.3 million in assorted legal costs after a judge last week said that punitive damages sought in a wrongful discrimination suit by a former Illumina chief science officer were “grossly excessive,” Illumina said this week.

The San Diego-based company said it expects to record a one-time gain of $3.3 million, but it will still have to pay $5.9 million in myriad legal fees, including $2.2 million in punitive damages awarded for the wrongful-termination suit.

An Illumina spokesperson said it was not immediately clear when Illumina will record the one-off amount, and that no actual money has been spent or saved because of the likelihood that the plaintiff may still appeal the decision.

The decision to limit the punitive damages was made in a Dec. 3 ruling by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego.

As BioArray News reported in 2002, Illumina was told to pay at least $7.7 million in damages and litigation expenses in connection with a jury verdict for wrongfully terminating co-founder and former CSO Anthony Czarnik (see BAN 7/19/2002).

Czarnik sued Illumina for wrongful termination in March 2001, in California Superior Court. At the time, Illumina said it would take the $7.7 million charge on its second-quarter 2002 financial statement.

“We believe that this termination was lawful in all respects and that the verdict was unsupported by evidence presented at the trial. The company plans to vigorously defend its position on appeal,” Jay Flatley, Illumina president and CEO, in a statement at the time.

Illumina had $66.5 million in cash and investments as of Sept. 30.


Schott Nexterion Licenses Accelr8 Surface Chemistry for Microarrays

Schott Nexterion has taken an exclusive license to surface chemistry for microarrays from Accelr8 Technology, Accelr8 said this week.

The deal follows an earlier agreement under which Schott sold Accelr8 microarray slides under its name. Under the new pact, Schott, based in Jena, Germany, obtained a two-year exclusive manufacturing and marketing license to Accelr8’s OptiChem-coated microarrays for protein applications. The agreement can be extended for one year.

The company also took a non-exclusive license for other microarray applications. Accelr8 will be Schott’s only supplier of permeable hydrogel coatings for microarray slides during that time.

Accelr8 will continue to manufacture OptiChem slides for Schott until Schott’s own production facility goes online next April. In addition, Schott has obtained an option for a technology transfer license for multiplexed microarray plates in multi-well microtiter plate format from Accelr8.

According to terms of the agreement, disclosed in Accelr8’s Dec. 6 8-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Schott will pay Accelr8 an initial payment of $100,000 — $50,000 of which will be credited against future royalty payments. Schott will pay a royalty of 6 percent on net sales of the licensed product, unless total net sales during the initial term exceed $1,125,000 — then the royalty would be $90,000 and $15,000 for services related to production know-how transfer.


Axogenic, Univ. of Sydney Get Government Grant to Study Microarray Technology

Axogenic and the University of Sydney will use a AUS$150,000 ($116,000) Australian Research Council industry-linkage grant to examine new technologies for the interactive visualization of microarray data.

According to Axogenic, developed technologies will be integrated into the company’s product line to help speed genetic and proteomic research.

Research will be conducted at the National Information and Communication Technology Australia facilities under a research program led by Peter Eades, head of the School of Information Technologies at the University of Sydney, Axogenic said.

ARC grants were created to encourage long-term collaboration between academia and industry.


Invitrogen Licenses Protein-Chip Patents from Zyomyx; Teams with Research Institute on Biomarkers

Invitrogen has licensed several protein-chip patents from Zyomyx and has signed an R&D deal with the company to develop new products, Invitrogen said last week.

Under the agreement, Invitrogen obtained the rights to specific fields of use for more than 30 protein microarray patents held by Zyomyx. Invitrogen plans to use these patents to develop additional applications for its own protein arrays, called ProtoArray, which resulted from its acquisition of Protometrix earlier this year. Through an R&D agreement, Zyomyx will contribute to the development of these new products.

“The Zyomyx development processes are very complementary to our ProtoArray products, and by licensing rights to relevant Zyomyx intellectual property we are making it possible for Invitrogen researchers to develop proprietary processes and applications for our unique protein microarrays that will expand their utility and accessibility,” Invitrogen CEO Greg Lucier said in a company statement.

In a separate pact announced this week, Invitrogen said it would work with the Mayo Clinic on the discovery and development of cancer biomarkers. Invitrogen will supply financial and research support for biomarker discovery programs at the clinic, and in return will have an option to license and develop resulting technology on an exclusive and non-exclusive basis.


Natural Selection, Althea Partner on Gene Expression Analysis

Bioinformatics firm Natural Selection and Althea Technologies last week announced that they will collaborate on offering focused gene expression analysis for the discovery of biomarkers.

Both firms will contribute to future product design by drawing on Natural Selection’s expertise in identifying gene signatures from expression data and Althea’s eXpress Profiling multiplexed PCR technology.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


XDx Raises $20 Million in Series D Round

XDx, a South San Francisco-based molecular diagnostics firm, announced last week that it had raised $20 million in a Series D round of private equity financing, led by the Sprout Group.

New investors in the firm included JP Morgan’s Bay Area Equity Fund, Integral Capital Partners, and Burrill & Co. Previous investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and TPG Ventures also participated in the round.

XDx plans to use the cash infusion to support the launch of its AlloMap molecular expression test, a blood sample-based test for monitoring organ rejection in cardiac transplant patients. The firm’s reference lab received CLIA certification last month and will begin offering the test this month to transplant centers across the country that participated in the validation trial. XDx plans to make AlloMap testing available to all US transplant centers in 2005.

Vijay Lathi, a partner in the Sprout Group, joined XDx’s board as part of the financing.


Ciphergen Sells BioSepra Chromatography Business to Pall

Ciphergen has sold its BioSepra process-chromatography business to Pall for roughly $32 million.

The initial agreement to sell the business was announced in late October. The firms also entered into a collaboration, under which New York-based Pall will establish process proteomics service centers to offer protein purification using BioSepra’s chromatography products and Ciphergen’s ProteinChip technology.

Ciphergen also said that it will retain certain limited rights to access BioSepra’s chromatography sorbent technology for use in research and diagnostic markets.

“The sale of our BioSepra process chromatography business allows us to focus our financial and business resources on our core research products and emerging diagnostic business,” William Rich, CEO of Ciphergen, said in a statement announcing the firm’s third-quarter results in early November. The collaboration with Pall “positions us to continue to sell the Protein Chip Systems into the process proteomics market,” he added.


Univ. of Miami to Create Medical Genetics Dx Lab

The University of Miami School of Medicine will create a “comprehensive” medical genetics diagnostic laboratory with a $5 million grant from the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, UM announced last week.

“This lab will be handling the [screening] tests for a newly required Florida program,” said Kelly Kaufhold, a spokesperson for the UM School of Medicine.

The Miami GeneCure Diagnostics laboratory will comprise UM’s Department of Pediatrics’ Molecular and Biomedical Genetics Laboratories and its cytogenics lab.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.