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MJ Research, National Institutes of Health, International HapMap Consortium, Marligen Biosciences, Incogen, Mayo Clinic, Ciphergen, Illumina, Ottawa Health Research Institute, Roche


Jury Says MJ Research Must Pay $19.8M To ABI, Roche for Infringing PCR Patents

A jury has decided that MJ Research must pay $19.8 million in damages to Applied Biosystems and Roche Molecular Systems for infringing a number of PCR-related patents, ABI said last week.

In addition, ABI and Roche are also seeking to increase the damages since the jury found several of infringements to be “willful.” The companies also seek an injunction against MJ Research, which filed for bankruptcy protection at the end of last month, to bar it from infringing their patents in the future.

The US District Court jury in New Haven, Conn., found that MJ Research infringed US patent Nos. 4,683,195; 4,683,202; and 4,965,188; which cover PCR process technology; as well as Nos. 656,493; 5,333,675; and 5,474,610, which protect thermal cycler technology.

According to the jury, MJ Research infringed four of these patents willfully, induced its customers to infringe all patents, and contributed to infringement of two patents by its customers.

The decision relates to the first phase of the trial, which deals with patents. The second, antitrust phase of the trial is scheduled to start July 21. ABI and Roche filed the case in 1998. MJ counterclaimed that ABI licensed the patents through anticompetitive conduct.

HapMap Solicits Proposals For 1-Penny Genotypes

The National Institutes of Health will devote $6.5 million this year to fund another member of the International HapMap Consortium, the groups said this week.

The newest RFA solicits research proposals for completing large-scale genotyping of at least 2.25 million SNPs in the 270 HapMap samples in less than one year, and at a total cost of $.01 or less per successful genotype. The HapMap still hopes to follow the quality standards of 99.5 percent accuracy and 98 percent completeness, the consortium said.

Awardees will be able to choose which SNPs to genotype, but will be expected to cooperate with other HapMap groups, and to release data quickly to the HapMap Data Coordination Center.

The expiration date on the RFA is June 26, and the anticipated award date is Sept. 17.

Expression Startup Marligen Wins $100,000 from ASM Resources

Gene-expression startup Marligen Biosciences has received $100,000 from ASM Resources, ASMR said.

Marligen, based in Ijamsville, Md., offers products and services for gene-expression analysis, genotyping, and nucleic-acid purification. The company will use the funding for ongoing operations, sales, and marketing.

ASMR, based in Washington, DC, is a for-profit venture capital firm owned by the American Society for Microbiology. It supports early-stage biotechnology companies.

Incogen Gets $2M from NCI for Cancer Diagnostic Software Development

Incogen has received a $2 million Phase II grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop its cancer diagnostic software, the company said this week.

The company will work with the College of William and Mary and the Eastern Virginia Medical School on the project. As part of the 2-year grant, Incogen hopes to develop a clinical diagnostic software package for distribution to clinical researchers.

EVMS will produce the data for the project, while W&M and Incogen will analyze the data, the company said in a statement.

The two-year grant follows on a Phase I grant awarded to Incogen a year ago, which funded the development of a pilot project to analyze proteomics data produced by Ciphergen Biosystems’ SELDI platform.

New Mayo Program Seeks to Find Genomic Link to Addiction

The Mayo Clinic has established a program to identify genomic links to addiction, the clinic said last week.

The Samuel C. Johnson Program in the Genomics of Addiction, which will cost an estimated $20 million over five years, will seek first to identify human genes linked to alcoholism, and to develop preventative measures for those at risk.

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo will be responsible for raising the remaining $8 million in funds.

Ciphergen Sells ProteinChip Systems to Japanese Drug-Discovery Proteome Project

Ciphergen Biosystems’ Japanese subsidiary has been named one of the official technology suppliers of the Japanese Drug Discovery Proteome Factory project, the company said this week.

Ciphergen has so far sold to the project three ProteinChip AutoBiomarker Systems and two ProteinChip interfaces for use with tandem mass spec.

The 5-year Japanese project, which began in 2002, involves 20 Japanese pharma companies and is funded by the Japan Health Science Foundation to the tune of 4.5 billion yen ($41 million). The goal of the project is to gain information on proteins involved in cancer, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and dementia.

Illumina Posts Sharp Revenue Growth in Q1

Illumina this week reported a 153 percent increase in revenues for its first fiscal quarter of 2004, accompanied by narrowed losses.

For the three month period ended March 28, Illumina posted revenues of $10.8 million, up sharply from $4.3 million for the same period in 2003. Product revenue was $8.9 million for the quarter, up from $1.4 million in the first quarter 2003, while service revenue dipped slightly, to $1.2 million, from $1.9 million in the same period last year.

Net loss for the quarter was $3.9 million, or $.12 per share, compared to $9 million, or $.28 per share, in the first quarter of 2003.

Illumina reported $5.2 million in R&D expenses for the first quarter of 2004, down from $5.7 million in the same period of 2003.

Illumina's cash and investments as of March 28 were $27.9 million.

The company said its cash holdings, including long-term restricted investments, totaled $40 million at the end of the quarter.

Ottawa Health Research Institute to Run International Regulome Consortium

The Ottawa Health Research Institute is coordinating an international effort to characterize the human regulome — the regions that control gene expression in cells in all tissues and organs of the body.

Michael Rudnicki, senior scientist at OHRI and professor in the department of medicine at the University of Ottawa, is spearheading the so-called International Regulome Consortium, which will hold its first meeting in Ottawa on May 3-5.

OHRI said that a number of research organizations have "pledged their support" for the fledgling effort, including the Sanger Institute, the Genome Institute of Singapore, the Institut de Genetique et de Biologie Molculaire et Cellulaire, the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, and the University of Toronto.

Roche Uses Cellomics's Database, EMC's Storage System for Cellular Images

Roche has acquired Cellomics's database for high content screening, Cellomics said this week. Roche will use the Cellomics Store, which is part of Cellomics' High Content Informatics platform, in combination with EMC's Centera CAS storage, a storage platform for digital fixed content, in order to archive its cellular images, the company said this week.


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