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Quanterix, Med BioGene, Atlas Biolabs, Agilent Technologies, Gentel Biosciences, LGC, Fluidigm, Invitrogen, Applied Biosystems

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Quanterix Raises $15M in Private Funding
 
Quanterix, a privately held firm developing a single-molecule array technology, said last week that it has closed a second tranche of its Series A financing round, bringing in a total of $15 million.
 
The Cambridge, Mass.-based firm said that proceeds from the round of financing would be used to validate its platform and accelerate development of ultrasensitive assays targeting a variety of biological analytes. Quanterix said that it is developing the single molecule array, or SiMoA, technology for clinical diagnostic, drug development, and life science research applications.
 
The company was founded last year by David Walt, a professor at Tufts University, and Nicholas Naclerio, a life sciences industry veteran, who previously served as president of ParAllele BioScience and led the commercial launch several years ago of Motorola’s CodeLink microarray platform. Naclerio, who is serving as chairman and interim CEO of Quanterix, also was on the board of privately held True Materials, which was recently acquired by Affymetrix.
 
Quanterix holds an exclusive license to an intellectual property portfolio covering the SiMoA technology from Walt’s laboratory at Tufts.
 
Investors in the round included Arch Venture Partners, Bain Capital Ventures, and Flagship Ventures.
 
“We see tremendous value and promise for this technology,” Keith Crandell, a member of Quanterix’s board and a co-founder and managing director of Arch Venture Partners, said in a statement. “The ability to quantify biomarkers present at low concentrations in blood could provide critical information to clinicians and help guide health care decisions.”
 
Quanterix is currently developing protein biomarker-based assays for cancer, chronic inflammatory disease, and cardiovascular disease.
 

 
Med BioGene Cuts Q2 Loss on Lower Spending
 
Med BioGene last week reported that it cut its second-quarter net loss 17 percent due to a decrease in R&D spending.
 
The Vancouver, British Columbia-based molecular diagnostics firm reported no revenues for the quarter.
 
Its net loss dropped to $616,733, or $.02 per share, compared to a loss of $741,421, or $.03 per share, for the second quarter of 2007. “The decrease was a result of reduced stock-based compensation expenses and reduced laboratory supply expenses partially offset by increased business development costs as MBI continues to develop and execute upon its commercialization strategy,” the firm said in a statement.
 
MBI’s R&D expenses fell to $261,101 from $399,867 year over year, while its general and administrative costs inched up to $336,207 from $326,020 in the second quarter of 2007.
 
The firm is gearing up for the launch of LungExpress Dx, a gene expression-based prognostic test for lung cancer, which it hopes to market in 2009.
 
MBI finished the quarter with $397,079 in cash and cash equivalents.
 

 
Atlas Biolabs Adds Agilent Platform to Expression Profiling Services
 
German genomics services firm Atlas Biolabs said last week that it has added Agilent Technologies’ microarray platform to its expression profiling services.
 
The Agilent platform joins competing platforms sold by Affymetrix and Illumina as part of Atlas’ offerings. In addition to offering catalog and custom chips from the microarray manufacturers, Atlas said it provides customers with chip design in custom array formats and a detailed analysis of the expression data.
 
Further terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
 

 
Gentel Places First Protein Array Reader
 
Gentel Biosciences said yesterday that it has placed its first protein array reader system with the Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research in Cape Town, South Africa.

Gentel’s APiX Colorimetric Protein Array Reader integrates colorimetric detection technology with a newly developed 96-well plate microarray format, called APiX 96. The firm’s transparent nitrocellulose-coated plastic substrate serves as the surface chemistry for the instrument.

The protein array reader “has the potential to overcome the relatively high cost concerns of existing microarray applications,” said Reinhard Hiller, managing director of the CPGR. “This creates an opportunity for developing affordable while at the same time reliable assays, something that is of critical importance in emerging markets such as South Africa.”

Hiller said that the CPGR intends to use the system to generate proof-of-concept data for a number of potential diagnostic applications in disease areas, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, asthma/COPD, and cancer.

Madison, Wis.-based Gentel said that it is seeking early-access partners to co-develop and commercialize novel biomarker panels using the system.

 

 
LGC to Use Fluidigm's BioMark System in UK Labs
 
The life sciences services firm LGC has purchased one of Fluidigm’s BioMark Systems, which it will use to offer genetic analysis services in its United Kingdom labs, Fluidigm said last week.
 
The BioMark System uses fluidic circuit technology to improve throughput, reduce complexity, and allow for use of smaller samples and less reagents in high throughput genotyping applications, the company said.
 
With the purchase, LGC will add digital PCR to the other services, including quantitative PCR, genotyping, gene expression, copy number variation, and absolute quantification for sequencing, it offers to UK biotech research customers.
 
Fluidigm said that LGC initially will use the Fluidigm’s integrated fluidic circuitry system in PCR and gene expression projects in its Research & Technology Division, but in the future will include it in its LGC Standards, Life & Food Sciences, and LGC Forensics divisions as well.
 
“The system will initially be used by the scientific teams in LGC's Research & Technology Division to look at the accurate quantification of rare target sequences for applications such as health diagnostics and monitoring the efficiency of drug therapies," Derek Craston, who directs LGC’s R&T division, said in a statement.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.
 

 
Invitrogen, ABI Shareholders to Vote on Merger in October
 
Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems announced separately last month that they each will hold a special meeting of shareholders on Oct. 16 to vote on the proposed $6.7 billion merger of the two firms.
 
Invitrogen and ABI each said that shareholders of record as of the close of business on Sept. 5 are entitled to vote at the meetings. The firms will mail a proxy statement and relevant materials to shareholders the week of Sept. 8, they said.
 
Shareholders of both firms must approve the transaction, and the merger requires the approval of the European Commission.
 

Under terms of the deal, ABI shareholders will receive $38 for each share they own in the form of Invitrogen stock and cash, with cash accounting for 45 percent of the split. The purchase price represents a 12 percent premium to ABI’s average closing price for the previous 30 trading days.

The Scan

WHO Seeks Booster Pause

According to CNN, the World Health Organization is calling for a moratorium on administering SARS-CoV-2 vaccine boosters until more of the world has received initial doses.

For Those Long Legs

With its genome sequence and subsequent RNAi analyses, researchers have examined the genes that give long legs to daddy longlegs, New Scientist says.

September Plans

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration is aiming for early September for full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Nucleic Acids Research Papers on Targeting DNA Damage Response, TSMiner, VarSAn

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: genetic changes affecting DNA damage response inhibitor response, "time-series miner" approach, and more.