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Barney Saunders, Robert Friel, Jeffery Capello, Applied Biosystems, Sigma-Aldrich, Tecan, Invitrogen, PerkinElmer, Bio-Rad, Caliper, Bruker AXS, Stratagene

People in the News

Barney Saunders was named chief operating officer of Microchip Biotechnologies, a Fremont, Calif.-based start-up developing biosample preparation technologies for DNA sequencing, biodefense, and other life science applications. Saunders joins the firm from Agilent Technologies, where he served as senior director of science and technology in the Life Sciences and Chemical Analysis division. Saunders spent 13 years at Amersham Biosciences in a variety of commercial and marketing positions before joining Agilent.

Robert Friel has been promoted to the position of vice chairman of PerkinElmer. Friel currently serves as executive vice president and CFO and will assume his new role on Jan.1, 2006. PerkinElmer also said that Jeffery Capello has been promoted to the post of senior vice president and CFO and also will assume his new position on Jan. 1. Capello has served as vice president of finance since 2001.



Applied Biosystems to Buy Equity Stake in Next-Generation Sequencing Firm

Applied Biosystems, eager to nab a seat at the next-generation sequencing table, will make an undisclosed equity investment in VisiGen Biotechnologies and begin collaborating with the firm, the companies said this week.

The investment and collaboration are subject to certain conditions, including one that specifies VisiGen must receive an additional investment from SeqWright, an existing shareholder.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

In early October, after months of industry speculation, ABI disclosed it has been developing its own next-generation sequencing instruments (see BioCommerce Week 10/6/2005), and this week said it will still work towards this goal.

"Applied Biosystems plans to complement its internal investments in new and existing sequencing technologies with promising next-generation approaches, such as VisiGen's," Catherine Burzik, president of ABI, said in a statement.

VisiGen, based in Houston, is developing a real-time sequencing system in which polymerase and nucleotides act together as direct molecular sensors for DNA base identification.

Sigma-Aldrich Posts 21 Percent Sales Growth in Q3

Sigma-Aldrich this week reported revenue of $412.2 million for the third quarter, a 21 percent increase over third-quarter 2004 sales of $340.6 million.

The firm said that the industrial cell culture business of JRH Biosciences, which it acquired in February 2005, contributed 11.3 percent of the total increase for the quarter. Organic growth accounted for 9 percent of the increase, Sigma said, while currency benefits contributed .7 percent of the increase.

The company is predicting sales growth of 17 percent to 20 percent for the full year 2005.

Sigma reported net income of $63.9 million, or $.94 per share, for the quarter, a 16 percent increase over the $56.3 million, or $.81 per share, reported in the third quarter last year.

The firm's R&D spending increased to $12.8 million from $10.6 million year over year.

Sigma-Aldrich is in the process of reorganizing the company in an attempt to more effectively serve its customer base. The reorganization has divided Sigma's existing Scientific Research and Biotechnology businesses into three "customer-centric" units called Essentials, Specialties, and Biotech. Each unit will be overseen by a president, reporting to Jai Nagarkatti, the company's president and chief operating officer (see BioCommerce Week 7/14/2005).

David Harvey, chairman and CEO of Sigma-Aldrich, said in a press release announcing the third-quarter results, "We're well on our way to implementing our new customer-centric organization. Those initiatives are expected to provide 10 percent growth in sales in 2006 and several years beyond."

As of Sept. 30, Sigma-Aldrich had $155.3 million in cash balances.

Tecan to Incorporate Invitrogen Technology in Liquid-Handling Platforms

Tecan plans to combine its Freedom EVO automated liquid-handling platforms with magnetic bead technology made by Invitrogen subsidiary Dynal to enable researchers isolate biological starting material, including mRNA, DNA, and recombinant proteins, the firms announced last week.

The Freedom EVO series, which offers a variety of liquid-handling and robotic-arm options, complements the bead technology, called Dynabeads, which are compatible with many molecular tags. This makes it possible for researchers to isolate and concentrate cells, DNA, mRNA, organelles, and proteins from different kinds of sources.

Financial terms of the alliance were not disclosed.

PerkinElmer Board Approves $.07 Dividend, Initiates Offer for Senior Notes

PerkinElmer's board of directors has approved a regular quarterly dividend of $.07 per share of common stock, the company said last week.

The dividend is payable on Feb. 10, 2006, to shareholders of record at the close of business on Jan. 20, 2006.

The firm also announced that it has commenced a cash tender offer for any and all outstanding 8-7/8 percent senior subordinated notes due 2013. The notes have an outstanding principal amount of approximately $270 million.

Bio-Rad, Caliper Investigate Development of New Microfluidic System

Bio-Rad Laboratories and Caliper Life Sciences will look into developing a new microfluidics system platform, Caliper said this week.

Bio-Rad and Caliper had a similar agreement in mid-2003 and launched the Experion Automated Electrophoresis System, a microfluidics-based electrophoresis product, in the fall of 2004.

The product concept details were not disclosed.

Bruker AXS Adds to Roentec Purchase with PGT's X-ray Microanalysis Business

Bruker AXS said this week that it plans to acquire Princeton Gamma-Tech Instruments' PGT X-ray microanalysis business.

The company did not disclose the financial terms of the acquisition, but said that it expects it to close in the fourth quarter of 2005. The PGT X-ray microanalysis business had annual revenues of between $5 million and $6 million, Bruker AXS said.

The acquisition marks the second X-ray microanalysis firm that the company plans to acquire before the end of the year. Earlier this month, Bruker AXS said it would acquire Roentec, a German X-ray microanalysis instrument company, for an undisclosed amount. Roentec, based in Berlin, generates between $6 million and $7 million in annual revenues.

After the transactions close, Bruker AXS plans to combine Roentec and the PGT microanalysis business into a new business called the Bruker AXS Microanalysis Group. This business will focus on the global X-ray microanalysis market, which the company said is worth around $150 million per year.

Roger Durst, executive vice president at Bruker AXS, said in a statement that both Roentec and PGT have "excellent technology" and a strong customer base, but "both companies also have been distribution-limited and at a size disadvantage relative to their larger competitors."

Stratagene to Gain $14.6M from Humira Settlement

Stratagene said this week that it will realize $14.6 million after taxes in the fourth quarter this year from a settlement with Cambridge Antibody Technology.

Stratagene, along with the Medical Research Council and the Scripps Research Institute, own a patent related to the development of rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira, which was developed by CAT and Abbott Laboratories. Humira was commercialized in 2003.

According to Stratagene, it has the right to realize roughly $800,000 during the years 2006 to 2010 if commercial sales of Humira continue. In addition, Stratagene said that the parties agreed to a revised royalty rate on Abbott's other fully human antibody that neutralizes human IL-12, which was also developed in collaboration with CAT and is in phase II studies.

The Scan

mRNA-Based Vaccine on the Way in China

China may soon have its own mRNA-based vaccine, according to Nature News.

Arranged Killing, Fraud Alleged by Prosecutors

The Wall Street Journal reports that prosecutors allege that the co-founder of a biotech arranged to have a business associate who threatened to expose him as a fraud killed.

Whirlwind Decade of CRISPR

The New York Times looks back at the 10 years since the University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues published their CRISPR paper.

PNAS Papers on Blue Cone Monochromacy Structural Variants, HIV-1 Mutant, T-ALL

In PNAS this week: structural variants linked to blue cone monochromacy, HIV-1 variants affecting the matrix protein p17, and more.