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Caliper Life Sciences, Illumina, First Genetic Trust, Orchid BioSciences, BioMerieux, Epoch Biosciences, NIEHS, Third Wave Technologies, Cybergenetics, Marligen Biosciences, Qiagen, ParAllele BioScience

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Caliper Acquires Cell-Based Screening Tech from Amphora

Caliper Life Sciences will acquire from Amphora certain cell-based screening assays, the companies said last week. Caliper will use the technology to develop a new calcium-flux assay for G-protein-coupled receptor drug targets.

Amphora will transfer to Caliper its proprietary cell culture techniques, as well as hardware and software upgrades that Amphora has integrated into Caliper’s microfluidic screening system. In exchange, Caliper will compensate Amphora with cash, products, and royalties that will be based on future sales of cell-based assays, the companies said.


Illumina Hopes to Raise $30.7M In Common Stock Offering

Illumina hopes to raise approximately $30.7 million in a common stock offering and sell around 4.5 million shares of its common stock at $6.75 per share to a group of institutional investors May 14.


First Genetic Trust Secures $2M ATP Grant for Pharmacogenomics Database

First Genetic Trust has won a $2 million Advanced Technology Program grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop a pharmacogenomics database, the company said this week.

The two-year award will help FGT develop an information system to manage medical and genetic data related to adverse drug reactions and pharmacogenomics. Specifically, the grant will fund a prototype “clearinghouse ... that will support large-scale surveillance and research studies into the genetic basis for adverse drug reactions,” according to the project brief.

FGT said the system will provide patients with a secure communication mechanism and will enable them to interact anonymously with researchers. Conversely, patients can be re-contacted by researchers to participate in research studies, while maintaining their anonymity.


Orchid’s Revenues and Loss Up in Q1; Company to Genotype Irish Sheep

Orchid BioSciences last week reported increased revenues and widening net losses for the first quarter of 2004.

Revenues for the period ended March 31 inched up to $13.5 million from $12.7 million during the first quarter of 2003. R&D spending, meantime, declined to $500,000 from $1.1 million for the year-ago period.

First-quarter net loss, which included losses from Orchid’s diagnostics unit, which it sold to Tepnel Life Sciences in January, was $8.1 million, or $.41 per share, up from $5 million, or $.45 per share, during the same quarter last year.

As of March 31, Orchid had $31.7 million in cash and cash equivalents and $1 million in restricted cash. This includes $28.1 million the company raised in an equity financing in February and through the sale of its diagnostics unit.

Separately, Orchid said today that its Cellmark unit will provide genotyping services for the National Genotyping Programme of the government of Ireland to help breed sheep with reduced susceptibility to scrapie.

Cellmark, which is part of Orchid BioSciences Europe, will make its genotyping services available to 45,000 flock owners in Ireland.


BioMerieux Reportedly May Be Seeking an IPO

French diagnostics company BioMériéux has filed regulatory documents for a “possible” initial public offering, according to a news report this week.

Speculation was triggered by Wendel Investissement’s desire to sell its 35-percent stake in the company, BioMériéux said on Monday, Reuters reported.

Last December, Reuters said that Wendel “had mandated three banks to lead a BioMériéux IPO by mid-2004.” Such a deal “could value the firm at over €1 billion ($1.2 billion).”

BioMériéux is the eighth-largest diagnostics company in world and generated €915 million in sales last year. The company employs roughly 5,500 people and has 14 production sites across Europe, the United States, Brazil, Japan and Australia.

In February, BioMérieux commercialized FoodExpert-ID, a microarray-based in vitro diagnostic to detect the contents of animal feed and meat for human consumption. As Pharmacogenomics Reporter reported last year, the product may represent the company’s first steps in becoming a molecular diagnostic tool provider for primary-care physicians (see 10/23/03 PGX Reporter).


Epoch Biosciences Reverses Net Loss As Revenue Slides

Epoch Biosciences last week reported a drop in first-quarter revenues, and reversed losses it posted in the first and fourth quarters last year.

Revenue for the three months ended March 31 fell to $1.9 million from $2.4 million in the same period in 2003. Sales of the MGB Eclipse system in the first quarter sank to $567,000 from $749,000 in the year-ago period, while receipts from license fees and royalties inched up to $1.4 million from $1.3 million in the same period 2003.

Net income for the quarter shrank to $175,000, or $.01 per share, from $874,000, or $.03 per share, year over year.

Research and development expenses decreased to $928,000 from $1.3 million in the prior-year quarter “due primarily to a lower level of personnel being involved in research and development vs. manufacturing activities,” the company said.

As of March 31, Epoch had $9.7 million in cash and cash equivalents.

Separately, Epoch last week said it will co-develop with the Associated Regional and University Pathologists analyte-specific reagents based on its MGB Eclipse assay technology.

Epoch and ARUP will co-develop infectious disease assays for use in clinical diagnostic labs. The initial targets for the collaboration include viruses such as the herpes simplex viruses I and II, cytomegalovirus, human herpes virus 6, and enterovirus.

Epoch said it will supply ARUP with ASRs to the targets following their validation.


NIEHS Expands Toxicogenomics Contract with Paradigm Genetics to Include RNAi; TGen to Build siRNA Library

Paradigm Genetics will perform additional toxicogenomics research for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences that will involve RNAi technology, the company said last week.

Under the agreement, which is an expansion of Paradigm’s five-year, $23.8 million contract with NIEHS that started in 2002, Paradigm will subcontract with the Translational Genomics Research Institute to build an siRNA library, which will help in studying how humans respond to environmental toxins.

Under the modified contract, Paradigm will receive revenues soon, the company said.


Third Wave Reports Increase In Revenues, Earnings for Q1

Third Wave Technologies reported an increase in revenues and earnings for the first quarter 2004.

Total revenues for the period ended March 31 increased to $15.3 million from $8.5 million during the same quarter last year. Third Wave said this increase was greater than expected, due in part to increased demand for genomic research products in Japan.

Third Wave spent $2.9 million on R&D, which was unchanged from the year-ago spend.

First-quarter net loss narrowed lightly to $2.8 million, or $.07 per share, from $2.9 million, or $.07 per share, during the year-ago period.

Third Wave had $59.9 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments as of March 31.


Cybergenetics Licenses Forensic DNA Analysis Software to Orchid Cellmark

Cybergenetics has licensed its automated forensic DNA analysis software to Orchid Cellmark, Orchid BioSciences said this week.

Orchid Cellmark is the first private US licensee of the TrueAllele software, according to Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Cybergenetics.


Start-up PGx Services Shop Marligen Raises $2.3 Million

Marligen Biosciences has raised $2.3 million in funding from a Series A round of private-equity financing, as well as from government and non-profit agencies.

Investors in the company, which offers gene-expression analysis, genotyping, and nucleic acid-purification services, included Emerging Technology Partners and ASM Resources.

Last month, Marligen, based in Ijamsville, Md., secured $100,000 from ASM Resources to help pay for operations, sales, and marketing.


Qiagen to Open Benelux Subsidiary This Week

Qiagen May 15 will open a subsidiary in The Netherlands this week to help it serve customers in Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg.


ParAllele Pens PGx Deal With Merck, Gives NCI Lab Access to SNP Technology

ParAllele BioScience has started a pharmacogenomics collaboration with Merck, and has given the National Cancer Institute early access to its SNP-genotyping platform, the company said this week.

Under the agreement with Merck, South San Francisco-based ParAllele will determine genetic variations in a number of genes chosen by Merck. Merck will fund the study, which is the second collaboration between the companies.

ParAllele’s MegAllele SNP genotyping platform will also be used by the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at NCI-Frederick, an early access customer. The technology does not require the DNA around each SNP to be amplified prior to analysis, according to the company.

 

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The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.