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Ardais and Aventis, Applera and Applied Biosystems, General Electric and Amersham, AstraZeneca and Clinomics, and Cambridge-MIT Institute

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Ardais Extends Aventis Collaboration for BIGR Library

Ardais said this week that it has extended a research collaboration with Aventis that the companies began in 2002.

Under the terms of the original collaboration, Aventis was granted access to Ardais' BIGR (Biomaterials and Information for Genomic Research) library of clinical data and biomaterials. Under the expanded agreement, Ardais will use this platform in combination with immunohistochemistry profiling "to assess the potential of certain biological targets in the pharmaceutical company's R&D pipeline."

Ardais said it would use its technology to optimize validation assays and assist in the characterization of targets in panels of normal and diseased human tissues.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


Applera Board Authorizes Additional Applied Biosystems Stock Buyback

Applera has authorized the repurchase of up to $100 million of its Applied Biosystems group's common stock, ABI said this week.

The repurchase, approved by Applera's board of directors, has no time restrictions. Applera already repurchased $200 million, or 8.9 million shares, of Applied Biosystems' stock during fiscal year 2004.


GE to Complete Acquisition of Amersham, Hold Strategy Conference on April 8

General Electric announced April 1 that it will finalize its acquisition of Amersham PLC on April 8, and that it will hold a teleconference on that day discussing how Amersham will fit into GE's new healthcare unit.

The companies first announced the bid last October. Under the agreement, GE is slated to acquire Amersham for £5.7 billion ($9.5 billion) in an all-stock deal, subject to the waiver of some "regulatory pre-conditions," the companies said.

Statements by GE executives have indicated that the company plans to retain Amersham's life sciences business in the acquisition. GE Healthcare Technologies, to be based in the UK, will combine Amersham and GE Medical, the companies said.

"Amersham's diagnostic, pharmaceutical, and life sciences business will add new, high growth platforms to GE Medical's diagnostic imaging, services and healthcare information technology businesses," Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE said in a statement at the time the acquisition was announced. "The combination of this technological and market knowledge will allow GE to accelerate the development of molecular imaging and personalized medicine where it will be possible to predict and treat disease with therapies tailored to the individual."

Amersham Biosciences, a unit of Amersham PLC, markets the InCell Analyzer 1000 for assay development and analysis of cell-based assays. It also offers screening and cellular assays; Biotrak assays, a Scintillation proximity assay, and CyDye reagents, as well as a licensing program for its green fluorescent proteins. The company has no stated plans to discontinue these products.


AstraZeneca Licenses Clinomics' Cancer Database

Clinomics has licensed its Oncology Cell Signaling Database to AstraZeneca, the company's parent, Cytomyx holdings, said last week.

The searchable database includes over 30,000 tissue samples from different forms of human cancer, and protein expression of 100 cell signaling proteins across all of these samples, the company said. It allows companies to biologically characterize gene and protein targets in numerous diseases, through searching numerous data fields including medical history, pathology, demographics, and treatment outcomes.

Under the non-exclusive agreement, AstraZeneca has obtained multiple user licenses to the database.

Cytomyx, of Cambridge, UK, acquired Clinomics in December 2003.


Cambridge-MIT Institute Launches Initiative to Advance Next-Generation Drug Discovery

The Cambridge-MIT Institute said in late March that it is launching a new initiative to bring researchers from different disciplines together to help accelerate advances in drug discovery.

CMI said it is funding the Next-Generation Drug Discovery Community, which will unite Cambridge University and MIT researchers from fields such as computer science and physics with partners from the information technology and biopharmaceutical industries.

According to CMI, the alliance will work on new methods of overcoming bottlenecks in the drug discovery and development process. The effort is designed to advance the development of techniques for the rapid and quantitative experimental measurement of the gene- and protein-level properties of cells and tissues simultaneously, as well as to offer computer-aided analysis of the meaning of these data.

The community's first projects will involve studying adult blood stem cells as experimental systems for testing the efficacy and toxicity of drugs, and establishing new computational methods to identify drug targets, said CMI.