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German Cancer Research Center, University of Cologne, Miraculins, IBEX Technologies, Genome Institute of Singapore, Illumina, Bruker, HealthLinx, Tm Bioscience, Enzo Biochem

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German Research Centers Develop Microarray To Gauge Neuroblastoma Patient Risk
 
The German Cancer Research Center and the University of Cologne have published a study that suggests a microarray-based method outperforms current methods for assessing the aggressiveness of neuroblastomas.
 
In the study, published in the November issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the researchers identified 144 genes in 77 tumors that display activity that is “characteristic” of the course of the disease, with some of the genes expressed in malignant neuroblastomas and others expressed in benign tumors.
 
The investigators confirmed the reliability of the gene chip in 174 more tumor samples, reporting that the chip predicted the course of the disease with 93 percent accuracy. “This is substantially better than with current methods of neuroblastoma classification,” according to the research team.
 
Additionally, the genetic test filtered out patients with an aggressive form of the disease, who would otherwise not have been prescribed conventional therapy, but for whom early treatment could be life-saving.
 
“Neuroblastoma takes a very variable course. In some cases, the tumor disappears by itself, while other patients die in spite of intensive treatment,” Frank Westermann of the German Cancer Research Center said in a statement. “Using our test it will be possible to assess the individual patient’s risk more accurately.”
 

 
Miraculins Makes Unsolicited Bid to Acquire Dx Shop IBEX, But IBEX Isn’t Interested
 
Biomarker research company Miraculins last week made an unsolicited offer to acquire Montreal-based IBEX Technologies, a cancer and arthritis diagnostics company.
 
IBEX responded by saying that Miraculins’ proposal undervalues the company, and that Miraculins is a smaller company financially.
 
In its response, posted on the company’s website, IBEX also said it has signed a non-binding letter of intent to acquire an undisclosed private company based in or around Montreal that will “substantially increase IBEX’s size,” and said it expects to sign a definitive agreement by the end of this year.
 
Manitoba, Canada-based Miraculins said it extended the offer because the two companies’ cancer diagnostic technologies are “extremely complementary” and said the deal would enhance the future of both companies.
 
Miraculins said it has contacted IBEX’s board of directors with a proposal that IBEX shareholders receive one common share in Miraculins for every five IBEX shares.
 
That would leave Miraculins shareholders owning 77 percent of the joined company, while IBEX shareholders would hold the remaining 23 percent.
 
Miraculins said it set the offer at a 65-percent premium over IBEX’s closing price for the last 50 days on Toronto’s Stock Exchange.
 
IBEX said its board will appoint financial advisers after it receives the complete details of the offer, but it disputed Miraculins’ valuation of its worth.
 
In its statement, IBEX said the company has three times more assets in cash and equivalents than Miraculins, with IBEX claiming holdings of $4.5 million and Miraculins $1.6 million, according to each company’s most recent financial statements.
 
IBEX President and CEO Paul Baehr said Miraculins approached his company several weeks ago with an offer, which he said was “completely inadequate because it was only half the value of our cash.”
 
Baehr added, “We met with them and took a look at their technology and we weren’t that impressed, and so we responded that we had no interest.”
 
Baehr said he did not know Miraculins was planning to make a public offer. “I think they have undervalued our company … and we don’t understand how they propose to develop our technology with the resources they have,” he said. “If their value was good, if their technology was good, if they were a well-traded stock it might be different.”
 
Baehr did not rule out a potential agreement with Miraculins, however. He said IBEX’s board will listen to advice from a committee and then will make a decision about the offer.
 
IBEX is urging its shareholders not to move shares based on this offer until the board has a chance to look at the details.
 
“For now all they’ve done is issue a press release,” Baehr said.
 

 
Genome Institute of Singapore, Undisclosed Pharma to Use Illumina's BeadChip
 
The Genome Institute of Singapore will use Illumina's BeadChip technology to analyze 3,000 samples, Illumina said last week.
 
The Institute will work with an undisclosed pharmaceutical company in a collaboration using Illumina’s HumanRef-8 Expression BeadChip.
 
Illumina said the technology enables researchers to perform genome-wide expression profiling for eight samples on a single microarray.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
 

 
Bruker, HealthLinx File Patents for Biomarkers Linked to Risk of Complications in Pregnancy
 
Bruker Daltonics and HealthLinx have filed a joint PCT patent application to develop and market diagnostics based on their joint discovery of two biomarkers linked to pregnancy complications, HealthLinx said this week.
 
The tests will be based on Bruker’s ClinProt test, but HealthLinx said it will retain the rights to any ELISA/multiplex tests developed from these patents in the future.
 
HealthLinx, based in Melbourne, Australia, said that the two companies will share marketing rights for the test in the US and in Canada, but will split the international rights.
 
Bruker will handle Europe, the UK, Africa, and South America, while HealthLinx will have rights in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
 
HealthLinx added that the companies plan to share development and marketing costs.
 
The companies have been engaged in a research collaboration for the past year, and are working to complete the second phase of trials. The biomarkers they discovered and hope to patent may be used to diagnose women who are predisposed to pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, pre-term labor, miscarriage, and gestational diabetes.
 

 
Tm Bioscience's Losses Mount But Revenues Gain as Firm Considers Strategic Options
 
Tm Bioscience said this week that third-quarter revenues increased 19 percent as R&D spending rose 98 percent and its loss increased 83 percent.
 
Total receipts for the three months ended Sept. 30 increased to $2.6 million from $2.2 million year over year.
 
Tm said $2.3 million of its sales came from its Tag-It reagents, and $300,000 came from instrument sales, an increase of 50 percent from a year ago. 
 
R&D spending increased to $1.3 million from $662,000 year over year.
 
The company’s net loss increased to $5.6 million from $3.1 million in the year-ago period.
 
Tm said it had around $4.7 million in cash and equivalents and $35,000 in short-term investments as of Sept. 30.
 
Last week, Tm said it had formed a committee to consider merger or acquisition opportunities. In its financial statement, Tm said it “continues to explore other sources of capital but believes that a strategic transaction provides the most cost-effective source at this time.”
 
The company added that “no decision has been made to enter into any transaction at this time.
 

 
US Gov't Opens Inquiry Into Whether Enzo's Sequencing Patent Predates IP Used by ABI
 
Enzo Biochem last week said the US Patent and Trademark Office believes that a patent application it filed 24 years ago interferes with a patent covering genome sequencing technology that is owned by the California Institute of Technology and licensed exclusively to Applied Biosystems.
 
The USPTO has named Enzo the senior party in the dispute over the technology, which is central to ABI’s sequencing instruments. Enzo claims it filed its patent in 1982.
 
If Enzo wins the dispute it could mean a financial windfall for the small company, and it could spell trouble for ABI, whose sequencers generate nearly 30 percent of its annual revenue. Revenue generated by ABI's sequencing business fell to $137.8 million in fiscal 2006, which ended June 30, from $143.5 million in fiscal 2005.
 
A patent interference is a Board of Patent Appeals proceeding that takes place when "a patent and an allowed patent claim essentially the same invention." The process aims to determine "which party is the first inventor and which party owns the patent rights to the invention."
 
Enzo said its lawyers deem the proceedings significant because they will "decide who owns the rights to DNA gel sequencing."
 
An ABI spokesperson declined to comment. A spokesperson for Caltech did not comment because the institute has not yet received supporting documents.

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