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Sigma-Aldrich, Genospectra, Panomics, Fisher, Molecular Devices, Caliper Life Sciences, MultiCell, XenoTech


Sigma-Aldrich Buys Stake in Genospectra as Firms Plan to Co-Develop Cell-Based Assay Tools …

Sigma-Aldrich has acquired a minority equity stake in Genospectra and has obtained access to various Genospectra technologies as part of a broad R&D alliance, the companies said this week.

As part of the deal, the companies said they plan to develop new technology and products in the area of cell-based assays. In particular, the companies said they aim to develop live-cell biosensor assay reagents that can provide real-time data on the location and activity of proteins in living cells.

Other terms of the alliance call for Sigma to gain access to Genospectra's QuantiGene gene expression-profiling assay and its "inducible siRNA" nano-particle system for delivery of siRNA and other biomolecules to cells.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

... As Genospectra Plans to Acquire Reagents Shop Panomics

Genospectra will acquire Panomics, a provider of research reagents for transcription regulation, cell signaling, and signal transduction, the companies said this week.

In conjunction with the acquisition, and disclosed separately today, Genospectra closed a $12.2-million financing with Sigma-Aldrich and certain existing investors and affiliates of both companies.

Panomics, which is located in Redwood City, Calif., sells multiplex assays for the global analysis of transcriptional regulation and cell signaling. "By combining this portfolio with Genospectra's ... products and technologies for parallel quantitative biology, the new company will provide an integrated pipeline of products in the functional biology and drug-discovery space," Genospectra said in a statement.

The combined company, which will be called Panomics, will play in markets including cell signaling, RNAi-mediated gene silencing and high-performance assays, clinical biomarker discovery, and predictive toxicology.

Genospectra CEO Frank Witney will be CEO of the new company and Jason Li, founder and CEO of Panomics, will be chief operating officer.

The new company will be headquartered at Genospectra's existing facilities in Fremont, Calif.

Fisher's Q4 Revenue Grows 7.8 Percent; Firm Questions Future of Lab Workstations Unit

Fisher Scientific this week said fourth-quarter sales increased 7.8 percent to $1.42 billion from $1.32 billion year over year. Excluding the impact of foreign exchange, Fisher's fourth-quarter revenue growth would have been 9.3 percent, with organic growth accounting for 7.4 percent of that number.

Revenue for the firm's scientific products and services segment grew 9.3 percent year over year to $1.1 billion. Excluding the effect of foreign exchange, revenue for the segment would have been 11.2 percent, with 8.9 percent organic growth.

Fisher said sales for its healthcare products and services group were up 4.5 percent to $324 million year over year, while sales for its laboratory-workstations segment grew 1.4 percent to $50.5 million.

The firm said that market conditions for the lab workstations business remain "challenging," and it is evaluating whether or not that segment fits with the strategic direction of the firm. In fact, Fisher's 2006 outlook specifically excludes expected results from that segment.

For fiscal 2006, Fisher is predicting revenue growth, excluding the impact of currency translation, of 8 percent to 10 percent, with organic growth of 6 percent to 8 percent.

Though Fisher does not break out its R&D spending, it said that it expects to spend more on R&D and sales and marketing initiatives, primarily in the biosciences and healthcare businesses, during the first quarter of 2006.

The firm's net income more than doubled to $117.2 million for the fourth quarter last year.

Fisher had around $407.2 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 31.

Molecular Devices Q4 Revenues Rise 10 Percent; Profit Slides 60 Percent

Molecular Devices this week reported a 10-percent increase in revenues as net income dropped 60 percent.

Revenues for the three months ended Dec. 31 increased 10 percent to $52.5 million. The company said that, eliminating the effects of foreign currency translation, actual revenues for the quarter grew 14 percent over the prior year.

R&D spending for the quarter dipped slightly to $6.3 million from $6.9 million in the year-ago period.

Fourth-quarter profit fell 60 percent to $5.7 million from $14.7 million year over year. This is because Molecular Devices included an $18-million gain on sale of equity for the fourth quarter of 2004.

Molecular Devices had around $28.9 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 31.

Caliper Life Sciences Expands to China, Hong Kong, India

Caliper Life Sciences said this week that it has partnered with two companies to expand its distribution channels into China, Hong Kong, and India.

Under the agreements, Gene Company Limited will distribute Caliper's discovery products in China and Hong Kong, while Micro Devices Metrohm Limited will distribute the products in India.

Specific Caliper products to be distributed include the Sciclone liquid handlers, LabChip 3000 Drug Discovery system, LabChip 90 Automated Electrophoresis system, and NovaScreen Bioscience assay development, screening, and profiling services.

MultiCell Nixes Cell Sub-Licensing Agreement with XenoTech

MultiCell Technologies said this week that it has terminated the exclusive license agreement it had signed with XenoTech in 2003 regarding sales of MultiCell's non-tumorigenic immortalized human hepatocytes, due to XenoTech's failure to pay royalty obligations.

Under the terms of the original agreement, XenoTech was allowed to sell sub-licenses for the propagation of MultiCell's immortalized human liver cells for use in predictive, high-throughput, drug-discovery assays and pharmacogenomics studies.

Further details were not disclosed.

The Scan

Wolf Howl Responses Offer Look at Vocal Behavior-Related Selection in Dogs

In dozens of domestic dogs listening to wolf vocalizations, researchers in Communication Biology see responses varying with age, sex, reproductive status, and a breed's evolutionary distance from wolves.

Facial Imaging-Based Genetic Diagnoses Appears to Get Boost With Three-Dimensional Approach

With data for more than 1,900 individuals affected by a range of genetic conditions, researchers compared facial phenotype-based diagnoses informed by 2D or 3D images in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Survey Suggests Multigene Cancer Panel VUS Reporting May Vary Across Genetic Counselors

Investigators surveyed dozens of genetic counselors working in clinical or laboratory settings, uncovering attitudes around VUS reporting after multigene cancer panel testing in the Journal of Genetic Counseling.

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.