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Illumina, Applied Biosystems, Tranzyme, Neokimia, Tm Bioscience, Calgary Labs, Procter & Gamble, Sequenom, Genaissance, GE, Bristol-Myers, Exelixis, Lexicon, AstraZeneca


Don’t Make Me Pull the Car Over. ABI- Illumina Dispute Heads for Arbitration

A California judge ordered Illumina and Applied Biosystems to take their breach-of-contract dispute to an arbitrator, Illumina said late last week.

The legal tussle arises out of an agreement the companies penned in 1999 to jointly commercialize a genotyping system. In July 2002, following delays in the development of the system, Illumina decided to launch its own platform, the BeadArray SNP genotyping system.

This move led ABI last year to file a suit against Illumina for patent infringement related to its oligo-ligation assay, and the Applera unit argued that Illumina was the one in breach of contract.

ABI also sought arbitration.

Tranzyme Acquires Drug Maker Neokimia

Tranzyme has acquired Sherbrooke, Québec-based Neokimia, the companies said last week. Financial details were not disclosed. However, Vipin Garg, president and CEO of Tranzyme, said each company was valuedat around $7.5 million at the time of the deal. 

The new company, which will focus on developing drugs that target the so-called “brain-gut” axis, will get a head start thanks to $6 million in new convertible notes received last week, and will now be worth approximately $21 million, said Garg. The firm will retain the Tranzyme name.

Tranzyme has traditionally used its gene-delivery and gene-expression technologies to focus on developing therapeutics for neurosensory diseases. Neokimia, in turn, has used its medicinal chemistry platform to synthesize small cyclic compounds, and has developed several lead compounds for gastrointestinal disorders and metabolic diseases.

The compounds that Neokimia developed have shown “high activity” on G-protein coupled receptors and other cell-surface receptors expressed in the gastrointestinal tract and neurosensory system, including the brain.

Tranzyme, meantime, has used its technology to build biological systems that express these targets for drug discovery. The new company will try to develop therapeutics for diseases related to the brain-gut axis.

Tranzyme will maintain its existing facility in Research Triangle Park, NC, as the “focal point” for its functional biology program, and will continue its drug-discovery operations at Neokimia’s chemistry facility in Sherbrooke, Québec.

Garg will become president and CEO of the new company. Caroline Fortier, president and CEO of Neokimia, will step down and leave the company, according to a statement.

The new company will employ 45 people — 20 from Tranzyme’s facilities in Research Triangle Park and Birmingham, Ala., and 25 from Neokimia’s operations in Québec. Garg said he does not expect there to be layoffs.

The new company will continue to license its technology platforms with collaborations.

TM Bioscience and Calgary Laboratory Pen Deal to Co-develop Dx for Pathogen …

Calgary Laboratory Services and Tm Bioscience plan to co-develop a gene-based diagnostic to help physicians identify and characterize nosocomial drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Currently, most labs employ cultures to diagnose the pathogen, methicillin-resistant S. aureus. And though molecular tests are used routinely at CLS and other large labs, “there are no standard commercial molecular assays available” to detect and characterize the pathogen.

The partnership marks the first time Tm Bioscience, based in Toronto, will focus on an infectious disease, the company said. CLS is located in Calgary and operates 18 patient-service centers and four hospital-based acute-care sites in the region, a CLS spokeswoman said.

… as Tm Pockets $9 Million in Private Stock Placement

Tm Biosciences has earned $CA12 million ($9 million) in a private stock placement, selling 37.5 million shares at $CA.32 per unit.

The transaction includes a purchase warrant for a half of a common share that can be exercised at the price of $CA.40 per share through June 2005. The $CA12 million figure represented the gross proceeds.

Tm said the financing would be used to develop and commercialize its genetic tests.

P&G to Use Osteoporosis Targets Found by Sequenom

Sequenom has licensed to Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals an undisclosed number of osteoporosis targets against which the drug company hopes to develop new therapeutics, the companies said last week.

P&G will validate targets in biological and animal models for osteoporosis to identify screening candidates. Sequenom stands to gain royalties on product sales, and is entitled to receive license and milestone payments. Sequenom will retain all diagnostic rights to the targets.

Genaissance Licenses HAP Technology to Novo Nordisk

Genaissance Pharmaceuticals has licensed its HAP technology to Novo Nordisk, which will use it in a drug-development program, the companies said.

Terms of the agreement call for Novo Nordisk to pay Genaissance license and service fees, including fees for genotyping clinical samples. In exchange, Genaissance will have certain rights to develop and commercialize certain diagnostic products and services.

GE Offers Post-Marketing Services for Ciphergen

A unit of General Electric will become Ciphergen Biosystems’ post-sale services partner for its ProteinChip systems at hospitals in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, the companies said last week.

Ciphergen and GE Medical Systems have been working together in China on an “informal basis” for the past year, and have now established a “formal,” multi-year services agreement. The agreement is with the Medical Systems’ Trade and Development unit.

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“GE Medical Systems has a major presence ... in China,” William Rich, president and CEO of Ciphergen, said in a statement. “China is investing heavily in leading-edge biotechnology research and we hope to jointly play a significant role in fostering the adoption of our ProteinChip products as research and diagnostic platforms in this important market.”

Bristol-Myers, Exelixis, Extend Oncology Research Collaboration

Exelixis and Bristol-Myers Squibb have extended their oncology research collaboration until December 2006, the companies said last week.

The collaboration, originally announced in July 2001, involves discovery of potential drug targets for cancer. Initially, Bristol-Myers made a $20 million equity investment in Exelixis, and a $5 million upfront payment for Exelixis’ functional genomics services, followed by $3 million a year for at least three years.

Under this extended deal, the groups have the goal of increasing the number and degree of validation of cancer targets that will be delivered by BMS.

Lexicon Pens $66M Neuroscience Drug-Discovery Deal with BMS …

Lexicon Genetics and Bristol-Myers Squibb have inked a drug-discovery and -development collaboration in neuroscience.

Terms of the deal call for Lexicon to provide BMS with 13 of its drug-discovery programs as well as its Genome5000 program, which is an analysis of 5,000 genes using gene knockout technologies and physiological and behavioral analyses.

The companies will jointly launch a medicinal chemistry and preclinical development effort to discover small molecule drugs and targets. BMS will have the option to take over responsibility for clinical drug development and commercialization.

BMS will pay Lexicon $36 million upfront, followed by a minimum of $30 million over the first three years of the agreement. The deal provides for an additional two-year extension, with BMS paying Lexicon up to $50 million more.

… and Licenses Gene-Targeting Technology to AstraZeneca

Lexicon Genetics has licensed to AstraZeneca the rights to its gene-targeting technologies for use in drug-discovery research, the company said last week.

The Woodlands, Texas-based Lexicon did not disclose the financial terms of the non-exclusive license, which revolves around the company’s technology for discovering gene function in vivo using knockout mice.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Filed under

The Scan

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

US Survey Data Suggests Ancestry Testing Leads Way in Awareness, Use of Genetic Testing Awareness

Although roughly three-quarters of surveyed individuals in a Genetics in Medicine study reported awareness of genetic testing, use of such tests was lower and varied with income, ancestry, and disease history.

Coral Genome Leads to Alternative Amino Acid Pathway Found in Other Non-Model Animals

An alternative cysteine biosynthesis pathway unearthed in the Acropora loripes genome subsequently turned up in sequences from non-mammalian, -nematode, or -arthropod animals, researchers report in Science Advances.

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.