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In Brief This Week: Agilent; Waters; Vermillion, Quest Diagnostics; WaferGen; IntelligentMDx; Lineagen; Plexpress; Champions Oncology

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Agilent Technologies this week said that its board of directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $.10 per share payable on July 25 to all shareholders of record as of July 3. The firm, which announced a $2.2 billion deal to acquire cancer diagnostics firm Dako yesterday, paid its first-ever quarterly dividend in April.

Waters this week said that its board of directors has authorized the firm to repurchase up to $750 million of its outstanding common stock over a two-year period. This authorization follows a $500 million buyback program launched in February 2011, under which Waters repurchased nearly $420 million worth of its shares. Waters said that it intends to complete the $500 million repurchase program before purchasing its shares under the new program.

Vermillion disclosed in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week that it has asked Quest Diagnostics to forgive $1 million of a total $7 million outstanding principal balance on a secured line of credit due to what it believes is the achievement of milestones spelled out under an agreement between the firms. However, Vermillion said that Quest has not acknowledged that such a milestone has been achieved. The agreement dates back to 2005, at which time Quest provided Vermillion with a $10 million secured line of credit. Vermillion said that the line of credit was reduced by $3 million following US Food and Drug Administration clearance of the firm's OVA1 test kit in September 2009.

Vermillion said that the principal amount outstanding, if not otherwise forgiven by Quest, and any unpaid interest on the line of credit will become due and payable on Oct. 7, 2012.

WaferGen Biosystems has been sued by marketing services firm Coalesce for $100,000 for alleged non-payment of sums "due either subsequent to termination of a contract or under alleged verbal agreements in late 2009 or early 2010," WaferGen disclosed in a filing with the SEC this week. WaferGen said that it believes the claim is "substantially without merit," and that any sums ultimately payable would be immaterial to its financial position and operations.

IntelligentMDx has obtained the CE Mark for its IMDx GBS assay for rapid detection of Group B Streptococcus. The test runs on Abbott's m2000 platform and utilizes real-time PCR. IntelligentMDx already sells CE-marked assays for vancomycin-resistant enterococci and toxigenic Clostridium difficile that run on the Abbott platform.

Lineagen said this week that it has completed a 9,000-person study to confirm genetic variants linked to autism spectrum disorder. The firm has incorporated the variants into the next generation of its FirstStepDx genetic testing service and intends to launch the next-generation FirstStepDx when the study results are published in a peer-reviewed journal as early as the fourth quarter of this year. The Salt Lake City-based firm holds exclusive commercial rights to the variants through an agreement with the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Utah.

Plexpress said this week that contract research organization Admescope will include Plexpress' TRAC platform for high-throughput gene expression analysis as part of its services for drug interaction analysis and pre-clinical ADME-Tox responses.

Champions Oncology, a Hackensack, NJ-based firm developing personalized medicine technologies for cancer diagnosis and treatment, has received CLIA certification from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Office of Health Care Quality, it said Friday.

In Brief This Week is a Friday column containing news items that our readers may have missed during the week.