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Celera, Berkeley HeartLab, Ipsogen, DNAVision, Immunicon, Merck Serono, Helixis, Royal Philips Electronics, Gene Logic, Solvay Pharmaceuticals

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Celera Buys Berkeley HeartLab for $195M to Build CVD Testing Portfolio
 
Celera said this week that it will buy Berkeley HeartLab, a California-based personalized cardiovascular care company, for around $195 million in cash.
 
Celera said that BHL’s portfolio of CLIA-certified tests and disease-management services will expand its options for new molecular diagnostics, including tests for cardiovascular patients.  
 
The deal is expected to close in Celera’s second fiscal quarter of 2008, which ends Dec. 31, 2007.
 
Celera estimated that the market for personalized cardiovascular disease management in the US is worth around $7.8 billion and growing at around ten percent per year.
 
BHL’s annual revenue is expected to be more than $85 million in 2007, which Celera said is double-digit growth over 2006. The company said the acquisition will be accretive to earnings in the second half of fiscal 2008.
 
BHL will operate as a business unit of Celera.
 
Celera president Kathy Ordonez said the deal provides Celera with a “commercial infrastructure to drive adoption” of new molecular diagnostic tests that individualize treatment for cardiovascular disease.
 
“Celera's genetic markers that are intended to identify people at risk for early heart attacks, stroke and blood clots and optimize therapy with cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin, anti-coagulants and other cardiovascular drugs should augment Berkeley HeartLab's current disease management offerings to patients,” Ordonez added.
 
BHL has around 300 employees and is headquartered in Burlingame, Calif. It also has a CLIA-certified lab in Alameda, Calif. as well eight regional disease management centers.
 
BHL was founded in 1995 and first turned a profit in 2004, Celera said.
 

 
DNAVision to Offer Ipsogen's Breast Cancer Tests
 
Ipsogen said this week it has inked a pact with DNAVision that allows DNAVision to offer tests based on Ipsogen’s breast cancer gene profiles in a CLIA environment.
 
Ipsogen has a portfolio of diagnostics for blood cancers that are registered in Europe as IVDs. The company said that the agreement with DNAVision enables it to launch “a new generation of IVD profiling diagnostic products addressing unmet needs in guiding breast cancer therapies.”
 
DNAVision will offer Ipsogen’s microarray profiling services “at the level of quality of quantitative PCR,” Ipsogen said.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.
 

 
Immunicon Inks Biomarker Assay, Lab Services Deal with Merck Serono
 
Immunicon last week announced that it has signed a laboratory services and biomarker assay development pact with Merck Serono, the Geneva-based unit of Germany’s Merck KGaA.
 
Under the deal, Immunicon will develop specialized biomarker assays based on circulating tumor cells for an early clinical drug study. Immunicon said the new assays could potentially help doctors identify patients who have a high probability of responding to a drug being developed by Merck Serono.
 
“The ability to interrogate the extremely rare circulating cells once isolated from peripheral blood gives unprecedented opportunities to see real-time what is happening with tumor cells in patients upon exposure to investigational drugs,” Leon Terstappen, chief scientific officer of Immunicon, said in a statement.
 
Terms of the alliance were not disclosed.
 

 
New Molecular Dx Player Helixis Raises $10M in Series A Funding
 
Helixis, a newly formed molecular diagnostics firm based in Carlsbad, Calif., announced last week that it has raised $10 million in a Series A round of funding.
 
The firm was co-founded by Alex Dickinson, a former CEO of Luxtera who serves as Helixis’ CEO; David Baltimore, president emeritus and Robert Andrews Millikan professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology; and Axel Scherer, professor of electrical engineering, applied physics and physics at Caltech.
 
Helixis’ intellectual property portfolio is exclusively licensed from Caltech and comprises more than 40 patents and patent filings.
 
“We’ve developed a new generation of molecular diagnostic technology that radically reduces cost, size, and power requirements without compromising efficacy,” Dickinson said in a statement.
 
The firm did not provide specifics on its technology or how it offers these advantages over current molecular diagnostic technologies.
 
The funding was led by venture capitalists Jim Blair of Domain Associates and Sharon Stevenson of Okapi Venture Capital.
 

 
Philips, Chinese Institute to Create Center for Biomolecular Medicine; PGx to Play Role
 
Royal Philips Electronics and a Chinese biological institute last week said they intend to create a joint research laboratory in Shanghai to study molecular medicine, "in particular" pharmacogenomics.
 
So far, Philips and the Institute of Health Sciences have signed a memorandum of understanding to create the facility. The partners said the goal is to create “new solutions for the early diagnosis of disease and for monitoring the effectiveness of subsequent treatment.”
 
“In particular,” the center will perform biomarker discovery and test development for in vitro diagnostic testing, the partners said in a statement.
 
The collaboration will give the IHS access to Philips' global research organization, “especially the European laboratories, and should serve as a good example for further European collaborations," Rongxing Gan, vice president of the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, to which the HIS belongs, said in the statement.
 
"The combination of our expertise in translational biomedical research and Philips' expertise in advanced medical instrumentation will definitely accelerate the development of new healthcare solutions for the Chinese people as well as people around the world."
 
For the IHS alliance, Philips intends to locate a team of its own scientists at the joint research laboratory. The IHS is affiliated with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.
 
The companies did not disclose a timeline for the creation of the institute. Financial details were also not disclosed.
 
Philips has already laid the groundwork for this kind of research by creating a life-sciences facility at its High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. In May, Philips and Dutch drug maker Organon said they plan to use the campus to perform biomarker studies that could benefit Philips’ imaging programs and Organon's drug-development efforts.
 

 
Gene Logic to Help Solvay Pharma Reposition Failed Rxs
 
Gene Logic last week said it will help Solvay Pharmaceuticals identify alternative development paths for multiple undisclosed drug candidates.
 
All of these drug candidates were discontinued or de-prioritized in clinical trials for reasons other than safety.
 
Terms of the deal call for Gene Logic to pocket milestone and royalty payments similar to those paid for development-stage in-licensing deals, discounted for the fact that Solvay originally identified the compounds.
 
The deal also gives Gene Logic the option to receive an exclusive license to any candidate for which Gene Logic identifies a potential new therapeutic use that Solvay chooses not to develop. If Gene Logic elects to obtain such a license, Solvay would be entitled to success-based milestone and royalty payments.
 
Gene Logic has previously said it would help Merck Serono, a division of German drug maker Merck, identify alternative development paths for “several” undisclosed drug candidates.

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