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ABI to Acquire Agencourt Personal Genomics for $120M, Plans Early-Access Placements in '07

Applied Biosystems plans to acquire Agencourt Personal Genomics for approximately $120 million in cash, ABI said this week.

As part of the deal, Beckman Coulter will sell to ABI its minority interest in APG for approximately $50 million in cash. Beckman acquired a 49-percent stake in APG as part of its May 2005 acquisition of Agencourt Biosciences.

APG's massively parallel sequencing method, based on fluorescence stepwise ligation technology, is expected to complement current ABI platforms and will be applicable to genetic analysis applications such as de novo genome sequencing and high-throughput genotyping. ABI said that it expects to place initial systems with early-access customers in 2007.

APG's R&D team will continue to be based in Beverly, Mass., and will become part of ABI's molecular and cell biology division in Foster City, Calif.

The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter, ABI and Beckman said.

ABI said that it expects the acquisition to be dilutive in both fiscal 2007 and 2008, primarily due to R&D spending, commercialization activities, and acquisition-related amortization associated.

ABI in October 2005 bought a stake in next-generation sequencing company Visigen and stressed one month later that it wasn't done shopping.


Sequenom Issued Additional Nasdaq Delisting Warning

Sequenom said last week that it has received a letter from the Nasdaq exchange notifying the company that it is currently out of compliance with the stockholder-equity listing requirement.

According to Sequenom, the letter indicates that the company's stockholders' equity of $8,329,000 as of March 31 is less than the $10,000,000 requirement.

Last month, Sequenom reported that it had failed to meet the Nasdaq's minimum closing bid price requirement, and that it had until June 15 to regain compliance before its shares would be delisted from the exchange.

Sequenom said that the stockholders' equity issue could serve as an additional basis for delisting.


Abbott Withdraws Opposition to Affymetrix Patents in Europe; CombiMatrix, PamGene Continue to Fight

Abbott Laboratories earlier this month withdrew its opposition to Affymetrix patents in Europe, according to documents filed with the European Patent Office and obtained by Pharmacogenomics Reporter sister publication GenomeWeb News.

The withdrawal comes one month after Affy licensed key array-related patents to Abbott. Affymetrix licensed a number of undisclosed patents to Abbott Molecular, a division of Abbott Laboratories, enabling Abbott to manufacture and sell comparative genomic hybridization microarrays, readers, and software for research and diagnostics.

According to EPO's online database, Abbott has withdrawn its opposition to two Affy patents: "Detection of nucleic acid sequences" (EP0834576) and "Identification of nucleic acids in samples" (EP0834575).

The EPO revoked the '576 patent in May 2005 after Applera, CombiMatrix, Abbott Laboratories, PamGene, and others successfully opposed it through the EPO's opposition division. Applera withdrew its opposition in February 2006 after obtaining a license to undisclosed Affy technology in December 2005.

Affy appealed the EPO's decision, but the remaining opponents continued their effort to oppose Affy's rights to enforce the '576 patent.

In a document filed on May 12 following Abbott's withdrawal, the EPO's appeals division stated that "the appeal proceedings will be continued between the remaining parties."


Roche, Entelos Pen 2-Year Alliance to Study Metabolic Diseases

Roche and Entelos have inked a two-year collaboration to research metabolic diseases, the companies said last week.

Under the terms of the agreement, Roche will provide Entelos with R&D funding and milestone payments for biosimulation research conducted using its Metabolism PhysioLab platform, the companies said.

Roche said that Entelos' approach could be "useful in analyzing existing preclinical and clinical data in order to optimize future clinical trials" for drugs or tests that treat chronic metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity.

Financial terms were not disclosed.


UCLA Researchers Report Cox-2 Inhibitor Blocks Some Tarceva Resistance in Lung Cancer.

Investigators at the University of California Los Angeles have demonstrated that adding the cox-2 inhibitor Celebrex to a regimen of the anti-cancer drug Tarceva approximately triples the response rate in lung-cancer patients, according to a university statement.

The study appears in the June 1 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

The research, performed at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center by members of the Specialized Program of Research Excellence, showed a Tarceva response rate of approximately 33 percent in the phase I trial, versus the drug's usual 10-percent response rate. The research suggests that the cox-2 inhibitor blocked cancer cells' resistance to Tarceva in some cases, the statement said.

The trial's patient population size was not immediately available.

"Dr. Reckamp's trial is the first to study increasing doses of a cox-2 inhibitor in lung cancer in an attempt to define an optimal biological dose," said Steven Dubinett, director of the lung cancer SPORE program and a professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at UCLA, said in the statement. "Larger trials of combination therapies utilizing this dose will now be required."

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