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In Brief This Week: Sequenom; Waters; Sequenta, Dana Farber Cancer Institute; Thermo Fisher Scientific; Intrexon; Nanosphere; Pacific Edge; CollabRx

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The plaintiff in a lawsuit that accused Sequenom of capping the price of its MaterniT21 Plus non-invasive prenatal test in order to drive up its adoption has dropped her case.

The plaintiff Bette Borenstein voluntarily dismissed her lawsuit earlier this week in US District Court for the Southern District of California five months after initiating the litigation. No reason was provided in court papers.

Borenstein sued Sequenom in late September alleging the company and its board had illegally capped the price for the MaterniT21 Plus at $230, or less than 9 percent of the test's typical price of $2,700.

The alleged scheme was implemented in order to drive up adoption of the test by physicians, putting Sequenom at odds with federal and state laws, and when the strategy was eventually discontinued, testing volume plummeted, driving down Sequenom revenues, according to the lawsuit.

Borenstein had alleged that Sequenom and its board breached their fiduciary duties and damaged the firm through implementation of the strategy, which she said was never publicly disclosed.

Waters said in its Form 10-K that it acquired three businesses or its net assets in December 2013 and January 2014 for a total of about $18 million in cash. In December it bought Expert Systems Solution, which manufactures advanced thermal analysis instruments, for about $3 million in cash. The same month it purchased the net assets of LaserComp for $12 million in cash. LaserComp manufactures thermal conductivity measurement instruments. In January, it acquired ULSP, a manufacturer of solutions for ulta-low termperature applications, for roughly $3 million in cash.

The Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Consortium will use Sequenta's ClonoSight sequencing-based test for clinical care of children with ALL, Sequenta said this week. The test is for minimal residual disease in lymphoid cancers. During an initial validation period, Sequenta's test will be used in parallel with another method called allele-specific oligonucleotide PCR that measures MRD and which the consortium has already been using. The ClonoSight test results will be used for clinical decision-making when the ASO-PCR method fails. However, the consortium eventually intends to adopt ClonoSight to guide treatment decisions in all patients, South San Francisco, Calif.-based Sequenta said.

Thermo Fisher Scientific's board of directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $.15 per share payable on April 15 to shareholders of record as of March 17.

Intrexon, Medistem, and Medistem's board entered into a memorandum of understanding on Feb. 25 to settle a consolidated lawsuit associated with Intrexon's $26 million acquisition of Medistem, Intrexon said in a document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The consolidated lawsuit, which merged two separate lawsuits filed in Nevada into one action, alleged breaches of fiduciary duty by Medistem's board, among other things. The settlement is subject to court approval.

Other lawsuits were filed in California related to the acquisition. Intrexon said that those actions were stayed pending the outcome of the Nevada lawsuit.

Nanosphere said in an SEC document that it entered into an amendment on its loan and security agreement with Silicon Valley Bank, extending the deadline under which Nanosphere can access the second $10 million tranche of a loan. The deadline was moved to Sept. 30, 2014 from March 31, 2014.

New Zealand crown entity Callaghan Innovation has awarded up to NZ$4.5 million (US$3.8 million) to Pacific Edge to help accelerate development of the company's molecular cancer detection technology. The funding will be provided during a three-year period, and additional funding for another two years may be available upon review.

Taglich Brothers this week initiated coverage of bioinformatics company CollabRx with a Speculative Buy rating and a 12-month price target on the company's shares of $10. The brokerage firm said in a research report that CollabRx should start showing "substantive revenue" in Fiscal Year 2015 and "potentially see its revenue surge in FY 2017 as the company's [Genetic Variation Annotation] service is more heavily used by an increasing number of laboratories."

Taglich estimated that by 2020, CollabRx could achieve revenues of $16.5 million. In FY 2013, which ended March 31, 2013, the San Francisco-based company recorded $400,000 in revenues.

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