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Vita Genomics, Affymetrix, Pfizer, Perlegen, ABI, Ambion

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Vita Genomics Licenses Affy's Arrays to Develop In Vitro Dx

Affymetrix granted Vita Genomics non-exclusive access to its microarray technology to develop and market in vitro diagnostics, the companies announced jointly last month.

Shanghai GeneCore BioTechnologies, a fully owned subsidiary of Vita Genomics, licensed the technology under the "Powered by Affymetrix" program, which allows companies to license Affymetrix's microarray products such as the GeneChip System 3000Dx.

Vita Genomics will develop in vitro tests to detect alpha interferon treatment response in patients with HBV and HCV as well as for early onset and allergic asthma in infants and young children.

Vita Genomics will incorporate Affymetrix's arrays into its molecular diagnostic assays.

Financial details were not disclosed.


Pfizer Pens Four-Year PGx Deal, Invests $50M in Perlegen

Perlegen and Pfizer have penned a four-year alliance to study whole genomes in an attempt to identity genes linked to undisclosed diseases and drug response, the companies said last week.

The announcement came one day after Perlegen disclosed Pfizer bought a 12-percent stake in it for $50 million, and calls for researchers from both companies to conduct whole-genome studies involving DNA samples from clinical trials. Perlegen will genotype the samples using Affy arrays.

Additional terms of the agreement between Perlegen and Pfizer call for the firms to share "certain" intellectual property rights that could result from the collaboration. Pfizer will provide research payments to Perlegen.

Separately, Perlegen said last week that if it executes an initial public offering in 2006, Pfizer has agreed to purchase up to an additional $25 million worth of stock in the company.

Pfizer's recent investment follows the companies' first research collaboration, begun in December 2002, when Pfizer used Perlegen's DNA sample preparation, high-resolution SNP genotyping, and data-analysis capabilities.

Affymetrix, Maverick Capital, CSK Ventures, and Eli Lilly have stakes in Perlegen.


Affymetrix Added to S&P MidCap 400 Index

Standard & Poor's has added Affymetrix to its S&P MidCap 400 Index, according to S&P's website. The Index said last week that it planned on adding the microarray company as of Dec. 30.

Affy has now become the third genomic tools vendor on the Index, joining Beckman Coulter and Invitrogen.

The Index, launched in 1991, tracks a diverse group of medium-sized US companies, according to Streetauthority.com. These companies have a market capitalization of between $2 billion and $10 billion, according to the service.

Streetauthority.com said the MidCap 400 "is an important benchmark for many fund managers who invest in this segment" and it "contains solid firms with good track records that are simply not large enough to be included in the much larger S&P 500 index."


ABI, Continuing Pledge to Grow Consumables, Plans to Acquire Ambion's RNA Business for $273M in Cash

Applied Biosystems plans to acquire Ambion's research products division for around $273 million in cash, the companies said last week.

With the acquisition, ABI gains entry into the consumables market for sample prep, RNAi, microRNA, and gene expression and array products.

"This acquisition is an important component of Applied Biosystems' strategy to drive growth by expanding our consumables product offering," Cathy Burzik, president of ABI, said in a statement last week.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory and other conditions, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2006.

The business ABI hopes to acquire develops and supplies consumables for stabilizing, synthesizing, handling, isolating, storing, detecting, and quantifying RNA. New products include microRNA and siRNA reagents used to study mechanisms of gene expression.

The market in which this business plays is believed to be around $500 million market and grows more than 10 percent annually, according to ABI.

Ambion's diagnostics and service businesses will become a separate standalone company, Ambion said.

According to ABI, Ambion stands to generate more than $52 million in revenue in 2005, which would be a 22-percent improvement over last year's receipts.

Founded in 1989, Ambion's research division has approximately 300 employees. Ambion's research and development, manufacturing, and other operations will continue to be based in Austin, Texas, and report to ABI's molecular biology division.

The Scan

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PNAS Papers on Siberian Dog Ancestry, Insect Reproduction, Hippocampal Neurogenesis

In PNAS this week: ancestry and admixture among Siberian dogs, hormone role in fruit fly reproduction, and more.