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Caliper Life Sciences, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, University of Georgia, University of Wisconsin, University of California Los Angeles, Carna Biosciences

As Expected, Caliper's Q2 Revenues Fall on Drop in Licensing, Contract Revenue
Caliper Life Sciences this week reported a 4 percent decline in second-quarter revenues due to a $3.5 million drop year over year in licensing and contract revenues and contract delays for its Caliper Discovery Alliances and Services business.
For the three-month period ended June 30, Caliper had revenues of $34 million compared to revenues of $35.3 million in the second quarter of 2007. The Hopkinton, Mass.-based firm had expected the decline year over year and met its revenue expectations for the quarter, it said in a statement.
Caliper reported product revenue of $22 million versus $21 million in the comparable quarter of 2007, while service revenue increased to $9.3 million from $8.9 million, and license fees and contract revenue fell to $2.7 million from $5.3 million.
“CDAS has impaired our overall growth year to date, but is expected to recover to double-digit growth in the second half,” Caliper President and CEO Kevin Hrusovsky said during a conference call today. “Our primary challenge in CDAS is linked to two large contracts: one with the EPA, which overall is going very well and is expected to deliver strong growth in the second half and future years.”
“CDAS revenues should strengthen considerably in the second half as we are optimistic regarding the next phase of the EPA ToxCast project,” Hrusovsky said.
He said that the second contract is with Pfizer. “They have delivered to us $3 million of up-front cash payments, however have been delayed in supplying to us the needed monies to complete the work. We are confident that this situation will correct itself in the second half,” he said.
Hrusovsky said that due to these two issues, the firm has lost around $1.5 million of revenue in the first half. But, he added in a statement that the company remains “confident in the second half growth drivers.”
The firm’s R&D costs declined 24.2 percent to $5 million from $6.6 million, and its SG&A spending dipped 3.8 percent to $12.8 million from $13.3 million.
Caliper’s net loss increased 6.3 percent to $6.7 million, or $.14 per share, from $6.3 million, or $.13 per share.
The firm finished the quarter with $10.6 million in cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities.
Caliper expects to report revenues of between $33 million and $36 million in the third quarter and full-year revenues of between $142 million and $148 million.

NIGMS Awards $9M for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Studies
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences announced this week that it has added three new research programs to its ongoing effort aimed at uncovering the basic biology of human embryonic stem cells. 
The programs will bring together multidisciplinary teams of scientists under the leadership of Stephen Dalton, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Georgia; James Thomson, a professor of anatomy at the University of Wisconsin; and Jerome Zack, a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Each group will receive about $9 million over five years.
Dalton’s group will address the molecular underpinnings of the early steps stem cells take in becoming specialized cell types. The scientists will also seek to identify the genetic and protein modification patterns that accompany this process of differentiation.
Thomson’s group will study how stem cells choose between self-renewal and the initial step toward becoming a specialized cell. They will also investigate how cells that have begun to differentiate can be programmed to return to an embryonic stem cell-like state. In addition, the team will work to develop methods for the large-scale production of stem cells.
Zack’s group will seek to uncover the changes in gene activity patterns that drive stem cells toward becoming neurons, reproductive cells, or hematocytes. In addition, the group will develop new methods for detecting changes in gene activity and for the long-term growth of stem cells in culture.
All three research programs will offer training for scientists seeking to gain expertise in the specialized techniques needed to work with embryonic stem cells, and will serve as a source of reagents, technical support, and methodology development. The human embryonic stem cells used in these programs are limited to the federally approved cell lines listed on the National Institutes of Health Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry.
The new programs join an NIGMS effort launched in 2003 to explore the basic molecular and genetic features of human embryonic stem cells. Prior to the latest awards, the initiative has included six exploratory centers, two multidisciplinary research programs, and several independent research projects and supplements.

Carna Biosciences to Supply Reagents to Caliper
Carna Biosciences will supply Caliper Life Sciences with a discrete set of protein kinases for use in its profiling and assay development services, and for its ProfilerPro Kits, Carna said this week.
Kobe, Japan-based Carna provides products and services including protein kinases, profiling and screening services, assay development services, and crystallography products and services.
Carna said that the Caliper agreement will give the company new opportunities to sell its protein kinases on the worldwide market, and that it will help position the company for supply agreements with pharmaceutical companies.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.