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Sigma-Aldrich, Enzo, Affy, Zhejiang University, ABI, GE, NIAID, Genomatix, Invitrogen, GRI, Kreatech

Sigma-Aldrich Settles IP-Infringement Suit With Enzo
Sigma-Aldrich and Enzo Biochem have settled a patent-infringement suit Enzo filed four years ago against Sigma and six other life science companies, Sigma-Aldrich said this week.
While the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, Sigma said the settlement “will not have a material adverse effect on the consolidated financial condition, results of operations, or liquidity.”
The US District Court judge overseeing the case last week approved the settlement, stipulation, and order to dismiss all claims and defenses.
The settlement comes two months after a US District Court in July settled the interpretations of eight patents at the heart of a 4-year-old lawsuit pitting Enzo against defendants GE Healthcare, Affymetrix, PerkinElmer, Sigma-Aldrich, Orchid Biosciences, Molecular Probes, and Roche (see BAN 7/25/2006).
Since it first filed the suits in 2002 and 2003, Enzo has alleged that the defendants, by selling its reagent kits improperly, infringe 15 claims of eight different patents. The parties participated in a Markman hearing to define the interpretations of those claims in July 2005.
In the order, handed down July 10, Judge John Sprizzo of the US District Court in the Southern District of New York ruled that Enzo could indeed proceed with its litigation against the seven biotech firms. However, Sprizzo rejected many of Enzo’s interpretations of the eight patents, causing both Enzo and two of its opponents, Affy and Roche, to claim a victory.

Affy, ChineseUniversity Pen Translational Genomics Alliance; Will Create Lab to Support GeneChip Research
Affymetrix and China’s Zhejiang University will jointly develop clinical applications for Affy's GeneChip technology, Affymetrix said this week.
The partners will also establish a joint laboratory to support researchers from Zhejiang University and six affiliated hospitals that use the GeneChip to analyze genomic information across large patient samples, Affy said.
Under the agreement, the university’s Zhejiang California Nanosystem Institute will use the array platform for certain of its research projects, beginning with cancer, newborn genetic diseases, and infectious diseases.
According to Affymetrix, the agreement is its first translational medicine collaboration in China.
Financial details were not disclosed.

ABI, Affy, GE, NIAID Among Groups to Act as ERCC RNAi Testing Sites
The External RNA Controls Consortium said last week that eight testing sites have registered for the initial phase of the RNA control testing initiative.
The participants are: Affymetrix, Agilent, Applied Biosystems, GE Healthcare, Illumina, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Qiagen, and Roche Molecular Systems.
The ERCC said it will be accepting applications for other non-manufacturing or non-production sites for control testing in different types of biological samples later this year.
The body first put out the call to commercial volunteers to act as testing sites in January (see BAN 1/31/2006).
Founded in 2003, the ERCC is an ad-hoc group with approximately 200 members from more than 65 private, public, and academic organizations that aims to develop a set of external RNA controls, related protocols, and analysis tools.

Genomatix Wins $1.6M Contract From German Gov't to Grow RNAi Biz
German bioinformatics company Genomatix Software said last week that it won a $1.6-million BioChance research contract from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
The two-year contract will help the Munich-based shop “pursue research in RNAi-mediated regulatory networks and to further expand its competence and product line” in the filed.
As part of its research, Genomatix said it will be “complemented” by “at least” two academic research partners, including the LMU Munich and the DKFZ Heidelberg, which will carry out the wet lab experimental part of the research.
Thomas Werner, CEO and chief scientific officer of Genomatix, said in a statement that the company’s annotation-driven microarray analysis offering stood to gain from the project.
"Regulatory RNAs represent a very important but yet underestimated part of gene regulation. As Genomatix is especially emphasizing the network aspects, this project will directly enhance many parts of the Genomatix portfolio of solutions,” Werner said.  For example, Genomatix’s microarray analysis offering “will immediately benefit from the results of this project,” Werner added.

Defense Dept. Gives Invitrogen $1.2M to Expand Use of ProtoArray in Biothreat Project
Invitrogen said last week that its Invitrogen Federal Systems subsidiary has been awarded a $1.2 million extension to its contract with the US Department of Defense.
According to Invitrogen, the contract will support research using its ProtoArray protein microarray platform to detect and analyze biothreat agents such as hemorrhagic fever viruses, poxviruses, and anthrax.  
This research builds on a technical assistance agreement with DoD for $970,000 initiated in January. That effort focused on the detection and analysis of smallpox and plague, Invitrogen said.

GRI to Exclusively Distribute Kreatech Labeling Kits in UK and France
Kreatech Biotechnology and Genetic Research Instrumentation this week said that they have signed a distribution pact.
Under the terms of the agreement, GRI will exclusively supply Kreatech’s Universal Linkage System labeling kits to laboratories in the UK and France.
Kreatech CEO Alexander Altink noted in a statement that the agreement with GRI expands the firm’s international distribution network, which now covers 21 countries.

The Scan

Expanded Genetic Testing Uncovers Hereditary Cancer Risk in Significant Subset of Cancer Patients

In Genome Medicine, researchers found pathogenic or likely pathogenic hereditary cancer risk variants in close to 17 percent of the 17,523 patients profiled with expanded germline genetic testing.

Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Embryos Appear Largely Normal in Single-Cell 'Omics Analyses

Embryos produced with spindle transfer-based mitochondrial replacement had delayed demethylation, but typical aneuploidy and transcriptome features in a PLOS Biology study.

Cancer Patients Report Quality of Life Benefits for Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Immune checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy was linked in JAMA Network Open to enhanced quality of life compared to other treatment types in cancer patients.

Researchers Compare WGS, Exome Sequencing-Based Mendelian Disease Diagnosis

Investigators find a diagnostic edge for whole-genome sequencing, while highlighting the cost advantages and improving diagnostic rate of exome sequencing in EJHG.