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Merck, Abbott Lab, Europroteome, Spectral Genomics, Affymetrix, Zymark, Caliper Life Sciences, Epoch Biosciences, Lynx Therapeutics, Orchid, Illumina, Broad Institute


Merck Invests $10M in Decode as Companies Pen PGx Collaboration

Merck has bought $10 million worth of Decode shares, and the companies have begun a 7-year collaboration to perform pharmacogenomics studies, Decode said last week.

Terms of the deal call for Decode to run clinical trials of certain Merck compounds. Depending on trial results, Decode and Merck may also develop pharmacogenomic-based tests to identify patients who would benefit from a Merck therapy.

Beside the immediate $10 million investment, Decode will receive a technology access fee, research funding, and milestone payments, as well as royalties on sales of drugs or diagnostics that result from the collaboration.

Merck has also received a warrant to buy up to $50 million worth of Decode stock at $29 per share over the next five years.

Europroteome, Abbott Plan to Co-develop Breast Cancer Dx

Abbott Labs and Europroteome plan to discover and develop in vitro diagnostic tests for the early detection of breast cancer, the companies said this week.

Terms of the deal call for Europroteome to use its proteomics and bioinformatics technologies to analyze serum samples from women with breast cancer. The resultant data will be aligned with a panel of cancer markers from Abbott, and combinations of markers will be selected for integration into Abbott’s instrument platforms, the companies said.

Abbott will pay Europroteome an upfront fee, as well as milestone payments. Abbott will also have an option for a royalty-bearing license to the results from the research collaboration, and will be responsible for commercial assay development and marketing.

Spectral Genomics Licenses Affy Patents for Diagnostic Use

Spectral Genomics will license certain Affymetrix patents to manufacture and sell spotted DNA arrays to be used in the diagnostics market, the company said this week.

The agreement, which will begin as soon as Spectral Genomics receives the “necessary regulatory approvals,” covers Spectral Genomics’ Constitutional Chip, which is expected to launch later this year.

Spectral Genomics already sells the chips as research products as part of a licensing agreement penned with Affy last fall. The new agreement pertains to Spectral Genomics’ plans to seek regulatory approval for these products as diagnostics.

Zymark Acquisition Helps Caliper Life Sciences Post Strong Q4 Revenue Growth

Caliper Life Sciences last week reported a surge in fourth-quarter revenue amid decreased R&D spending and a ballooning net loss.

Total receipts for the period ended Dec. 31 soared to $21.4 million from $4.9 million one year ago, due largely to the acquisition of Zymark in July 2003, Caliper said.

Product revenues generated the brunt of the growth, increasing to $12.9 million in the current fourth quarter from $2.5 million year over year. Other increases include a $3.2 million deposit for services, and a jump of $2.2 million in license fees.

R&D spending in the fourth quarter, however, fell to $8.2 million from $9.9 million year over year. As a result, net loss in the quarter rocketed to $19.9 million, or $.70 per share, from $10.5 million, or $.43, year over year, Caliper said.

Caliper said it had around $8.9 million in cash and equivalents, and $57.8 million in short-term investments as of Dec. 31.

Epoch Biosciences Posts Shrinking Q4 Revenues Amid Reduced R&D Spending

Epoch Biosciences this week reported a drop-off in fourth-quarter revenue atop miniscule R&D spending and a newly posted net loss.

Total receipts for the three months ended Dec. 31 fell to $2 million from $3.8 million one year ago. The decrease was across the board in the fourth quarter, as revenues from product sales, license fees and royalties, and contract research slumped by $845,000, $678,000, and $250,000, respectively.

Epoch blamed the decrease on the elimination of sales from the its San Diego operation in 2003, and to “significantly lower” shipments of the MGB Eclipse Probe Systems due to an “initial inventory build” by Amersham. However, Epoch said this was “partially offset” by increased direct sales to end users of the MGB Eclipse by Design product.

The company blamed the decrease in royalties to “the unusually high royalties from Applied Biosystems in 2002,” which were partially offset by higher royalties from other partners in 2003.

Fourth-quarter R&D spending, meantime, shrank to $826,000 from $1.4 million year over year, largely due to staff cuts, Epoch said. Epoch also posted a net loss of $427,000, or $.02 per share, from a net profit of $64,000, or $.00 per share, in the year-ago period.

The company also said it terminated a license agreement related to MGB technology after the US patent office “reexamined ... the relevant patent” and narrowed its claims to the point where they no longer apply to “current or future” Epoch products.

The patent office move cost the company $425,000 in a non-cash charge in the fourth quarter, which represented the remaining book value of the consideration originally paid for the license, Epoch stressed.

Epoch CFO Bert Hogue called this patent a “defensive measure,” and stressed in an interview with GenomeWeb News that it has “no impact on [Epoch’s] customers.”

Epoch said it had around $4.4 million in cash and equivalents as of Dec. 31.

Lynx Therapeutics to Provide Gene Expression Services for NIH Database

Lynx Therapeutics will provide gene expression analysis services worth several million dollars to NIH to build a mouse reference transcriptome database, the company said last week.

Terms of the agreement call for Lynx to use its Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing technology to study gene-expression patterns in mouse tissue samples provided by NIH. The data will enter a reference transcriptome database.

Orchid Reports Slight Revenue Increase, Narrowing Losses

Orchid BioSciences last week recorded slightly increased revenues and narrowing losses for the fourth quarter of 2003.

Revenues inched up to $13.7 million from $13 million one year ago. R&D costs fell sharply, to $200,000 from $3 million during the fourth quarter 2002, largely the result of Orchid’s divesture of its SNP genotyping instrumentation business, and of strategic changes of its GeneShield business, the company said.

Fourth-quarter net loss shrank to $7.3 million, or $.09 per share, from $35.1 million, or $.63 per share, during the year-ago period. As of Dec. 31, Orchid said it had $9.9 million in cash and cash equivalents.

France’s Genotyping Center Buys A BeadLab Unit from Illumina

Illumina sold one of its BeadLab genotyping systems to France’s Centre National de Genotypage, the company said last week. CNG is a part of the France’s Consortium National de Recherche en Genomique.

Broad Institute to Use Molecular Staging's DNA Amplification Tech

The Broad Institute will use Molecular Staging's REPLI-g whole-genome-amplification technology for large-scale studies involving more than 20,000 patient samples.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Filed under

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.