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Agilent to Buy Stratagene for $246M, CEO Sorge Plans Molecular Dx Spin-Off
 
Agilent Technologies plans to acquire Stratagene for around $246 million in cash, the companies said last week.
 
Separately, Stratagene CEO Joseph Sorge said he plans to form a new company that will pay $6.6 million for some of Stratagene’s molecular diagnostics assets.
 
Nick Roelofs, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Life Sciences Solutions segment, said Stratagene’s products and its experience are “highly complementary to Agilent’s life sciences portfolio,” and said it also was lured by Stratagene’s “excellent presence in important academic and government markets.”
 
Agilent will pay $10.94 a share for the company.
 
Stratagene said holders of 59 percent of its stock have voted in favor of the deal, and both companies expect the deal to close in around 90 days. The acquisition must still obtain regulatory review and approval from remaining shareholders.
  
Sorge said he is "looking forward to having more time to focus on research and discovery and making a difference in human healthcare."
 

 
Fraser-Liggett to Start New Genomics Institute at UMB Biopark
 
Former President of the Institute for Genomic Research Claire Fraser-Liggett will lend her expertise to launching a competing genomics institute at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, the school announced last week.
 
According to the University of Maryland, Fraser-Liggett will start and lead the Institute of Genome Sciences, which will be located at the school’s BioPark in Baltimore.
 
Fraser-Liggett “is expected to bring a team of scientists and staff members with her,” E. Albert Reece, dean of the UM School of Medicine, said in a statement.
 
Reece called the arrival of the other TIGR staffers “a major recruitment initiative,” saying they will “fuel the expansion of genomics research” at the institute. 
 
Fraser-Liggett will “build on her impressive body of work” in microbial and viral genomics, which have “provided a strong foundation for the development of new diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.”
 
Faculty at the institute will have opportunities to use the med school’s resources, including the Center for Vaccine Development and the Institute of Human Virology for clinical research, said Bruce Jarrell, the medical school’s vice dean for research and academic affairs.
 
Fraser-Liggett is scheduled to remain at TIGR until April 20.
 

 
Illumina to Shutter Connecticut Facility That Builds BeadXpress, Will Consolidate in San Diego
 
llumina plans to shutter its manufacturing operations in Wallingford, Conn., and fold some of the assets from the space into its San Diego facilities, the company said this week.
 
The Wallingford site was originally established in connection with the 2005 acquisition of CyVera, and has helped Illumina develop and manufacture the BeadXpress system. The platform debuted last month.
 
Illumina CEO Jay Flatley said that Illumina decided to consolidate the facility after its recent acquisition of Solexa enabled the company to evaluate “all of our operations.” He said that combining the operations “will provide us with efficiencies from both the manufacturing and development perspective.”
 
It was not immediately clear whether the step would result in lay-offs.
 
Flatley said Illumina will concentrate its R&D and manufacturing work in San Diego and in its facility in Little Chesterford, UK.
 
The company said it will incur roughly $2 million in incremental charges related to the consolidation, and expects that the move will be complete “over the course of 2007."
 

 
Ciphergen Has 'Substantial Doubts' About Its Ability to Stay in Business; May Need to Raise Cash to Stay Afloat
 
Ciphergen Biosystems and its outside auditor are concerned that the company may not be able to continue operating as a going concern, the firm said in its annual report filed recently with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. 
 
“We believe that our current cash balances may not be sufficient to fund planned expenditures,” Ciphergen reported in the filing, released on April 2. “This raises substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.
 
“During 2007, we may have to raise additional funds through the issuance of equity or debt securities, or a combination thereof, in the public or private markets in order to continue operations,” the company added.
 
The company’s auditor, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, gave a similar opinion in the filing.
 

 
OSI Hires Transgenomic to Analyze Genetic Mutations for Cancer
 
Transgenomic said this week it will analyze cancer pathway genes for OSI Pharmaceuticals using a high-throughput methodology it developed for characterizing gene variants in malignant tumors.
 
Transgenomic said it offers forward and reverse Sanger sequencing and variant annotation to detect mutations.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
 

 
Patients' Genetic Rights Differ 'Significantly' Across EU, EuroGentest Study Shows
 
EuroGentest has issued two reports suggesting that patients’ genetic rights vary in many ways from country to country across the European Union.
 
The EU-funded group said in a statement last week that it has found differences involving issues of “consent, confidentiality, access to records, insurance and employment” across the continent.
 
Issued on the 10th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, the report “highlights major variations and anomalies across the community,” EuroGentest said.  
 
The first two reports in its series examine Denmark and the Czech Republic. EuroGentest said that although the two countries ratified the Convention, variations in standards and practices between these two countries were “significant.”
 
In Denmark, EuroGentest member Herman Nys said that while a new patient-rights act was enacted earlier this year covering privacy, insurance, and employment, “there are still gaps in areas such as rights of minors.”
 
Meantime, in the Czech Republic, “a comprehensive legislative framework of patient rights does not exist at the moment,” Nys said.
 
Nys said that in the Czech Republic rights for informed consent, and for the right of individuals to access their health information for privacy, have been legislated only “fragmentally and incompletely.” 
 
The group said that at this point, in the Czech Republic, an office called the Czech Public Defender of Rights, or individual judges, have the responsibility for handling such issues.
 
EuroGentest said the Czech Society for Medical Genetics endorsed the report, and viewed it as an “important step” in creating a framework for patients’ genetic rights in the country.

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The Scan

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Sandwich Sampling

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In Nature this week: catalog of DNA viruses of the human gut microbiome, new dense depth data dump format to store quantitative genomic data, and more.