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Whatman, General Electric, Millipore, PamGene International, Invitrogen, Protagen, Cogenics, John Innes Center, ExonHit Therapeutics, bioMerieux

Whatman in Discussions for Possible Takeover
General Electric and Millipore are among a handful of firms that have been mentioned as bidders for UK-based life science research products firm Whatman, according to a report in the Jan. 15 issue of the Financial Times.
According to the paper, investment bank Goldman Sachs, which has been appointed to oversee a sale of the company, held a second round of auctions last week. In addition to GE and Millipore, Danaher and Parker Hannifin were named as suitors as well.
In a statement issued this week, Whatman confirmed that it has “received a number of preliminary approaches to acquire the company. The board is in discussions with third parties in relation to a possible offer for the entire share capital of Whatman.”
Whatman makes a wide variety of products that are used for life sciences research including nucleic acid and protein sample preparation products and protein microarrays.
The Financial Times said that Whatman could fetch nearly $600 million. The firm has a market capitalization of around $330 million, based on its Tuesday afternoon trading price of 250 pence.
Whatman said on Monday that it would report 2007 revenues of roughly £116 million ($229 million), flat with last year’s results.

PamGene, Invitrogen Ink Worldwide Co-Marketing Deal
Dutch array vendor PamGene International this week said it has signed a co-marketing agreement with Invitrogen, under which the two firms will co-market Invitrogen's nuclear hormone receptor proteins and Lanthascreen assay technology with PamGene’s portfolio of microarray-based nuclear hormone receptor screening tools.
Specifically, Invitrogen’s products will be marketed together with PamGene’s PamChip applications and PamStation array instrumentation. The firms claim the arrangement creates a “complete offering” for compound screening in drug discovery in the areas of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Financial details were not discussed.

German Protein Array Maker Protagen Secures €1M in Interim Financing
Protagen this week announced that it has closed an interim financing round worth €1 million ($1.5 million). The Dortmund, Germany-based firm said it intends to use the proceeds from the round to expand its UNIchip protein array business unit.
The capital in the round came from existing Protagen investors MIG AG and Co KG Beteiligungsfonds 3, both based in Munich, and S-Venture Capital Dortmund. The round included a new investor, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau of Frankfurt. The latest funding brings the total amount of venture capital financing raised by Protagen since 2004 to €5.3 million.
Protagen will use the financing to “create new products and services in the area of biomarkers, both independently and in conjunction with pharmaceutical partners.” The company said it is also developing prototype diagnostics for multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Cogenics To Provide Genomics Services for UK’s John Innes Center
Clinical Data subsidiary Cogenics said this week that it has signed a multi-year genomics services agreement with the UK’s John Innes Center, a certified Affymetrix service provider.
Cogenics said it will provide the center, based in Norwich, UK, with gene expression and other services to support its plant science and microbiology research.
Cogenics said that it has already developed a custom Brassica gene expression microarray under the collaboration. The array, developed in conjunction with the J. Craig Venter Institute, includes 91,854 transcribed sequences across multiple Brassica species.
Financial terms of the agreement were not provided.

ExonHit Gains Dx Commercialization Rights Under Modified Deal with bioMerieux
ExonHit Therapeutics said last week that it has amended its longstanding partnership with bioMerieux in order to gain commercial rights to cancer diagnostic kits developed through the agreement.
The amended agreement also gives bioMerieux “greater flexibility to initiate new research and development projects in that field,” ExonHit said.
The partnership began in 2003 to develop breast cancer diagnostics and was expanded in 2005 to include other types of cancers, including colon, prostate, and lung.
The goal of the partnership is to develop DNA microarrays to detect cancer markers in blood samples. ExonHit is providing its gene expression analysis know-how and intellectual property, and bioMerieux is contributing its knowledge of in vitro diagnostics.
The companies are currently working on three programs: breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer.
Terms of the previous agreement gave bioMérieux an exclusive license to ExonHit’s technology and methods in the field of blood diagnostics, gene profiling, and microarray design. In exchange, bioMérieux covered ExonHit's R&D costs and provided milestone payments.
The new agreement will allow ExonHit to market the diagnostic kits developed through the partnership to pharmaceutical companies or to hospitals taking part in clinical studies, “in order to help them recruit patients for their clinical studies.”
Bruno Tocque, chairman of ExonHit’s management board, called the amendment “a major step forward in ExonHit's development because it allows us to consider generating our own source of revenues from products based on our technology which are issued from the collaboration."

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.