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Nanogen, Deltagen, Lynx, Northeastern University, Third Wave, EraGen, LightUp Technologies


Nanogen Sacks 20 Percent of Staff As Focus on Molecular Dx Intensifies

Nanogen has laid off around 20 percent of its staff as it takes steps to better manage resources dedicated to developing and marketing molecular diagnostics, the company said last week.

The reduction in staff, which brings total headcount to 156, is expected to save Nanogen around $5 million this year.

“Nanogen remains dedicated to its strategy to continue to place its NanoChip Molecular Biology Workstations within clinical reference labs and increase sales of its consumable products ... ,” said Howard Birndorf, Nanogen’s chairman and CEO. “Adjusting our cost structure will enable us to effectively manage our business in this weakened economy.”

Deltagen Shutters Nine Offices, Reduces Staff by 25 Percent

Deltagen has shuttered nine “premises” and laid off approximately 50 of its staffers, or 25 percent of its workforce, as the company continues to find ways of cutting costs and staying solvent, the company said last week.

Deltagen said it will vacate nine “premises of excess space” and consolidate “all its primary activities” into its newly opened offices in Redwood City, Calif. The move is expected to save the company $8 million in 2004.

The reduction in head count, from 200 to 150 employees, was in the research and development and administrative functions.

“These actions are being implemented to ensure that Deltagen is optimally structured to drive revenues and satisfy our customers’ needs in a cost-effective manner,” said Joseph Limber, the firm’s interim CEO. “We will work to expand our revenue base by taking full advantage of our portfolio of products that include biological models, drug interaction and metabolism technologies, and validated small molecule targets.”

Lynx, Northeastern University Pen Plan to Study Antarctic Icefish

Lynx Therapeutics will use its Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing in a service agreement with Northeastern University to study the regulation of gene-expression in Antarctic icefish, the company said last week.

Lynx will receive payments for the genomic-discovery services it performs on samples provided by Northeastern’s Department of Biology and Marine Science Center, Lynx said.

Because they are the only vertebrate taxonomic group that does not produce red blood cells or hemoglobin, Antarctic icefish may provide a unique model system for determining the genetic regulation of blood cell formation — a process conserved from fish to humans.

Third Wave, EraGen Settle Patent Dispute; EraGen to kill some Gene Codes Products

Third Wave Technologies has settled its patent-infringement lawsuit against EraGen Biosciences, the company said last week.

According to the terms of the settlement, EraGen will discontinue developing and selling its Gene Code products 1.0, 1.2, and 1.3, and will no longer use technologies employing invasive cleavage. However, EraGen, which does not admit to infringement of Third Wave’s patents, will continue to sell its Gene Code 2.0 and Multi-Code technologies because they do not use invasive cleavage.

In exchange, Third Wave has agreed to “dismiss the lawsuit” against EraGen and to “issue a covenant not to sue” under certain Third Wave patents. Financial and other terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Third Wave’s suit, filed against EraGen last September in a US District Court, alleged that EraGen’s Gene Code products infringed two Third Wave patents related to invasive cleavage-structure technology. Last month, the court issued a ruling confirming Third Wave’s interpretation of the patent claims at issue.

“EraGen is a small, emerging company, and we decided our funds are better spent on research and development and introducing new products, rather than on protracted litigation with a larger, better funded competitor. The settlement has no impact on our projected sales and product launches,” said Irene Hrusovsky, EraGen’s president and chief executive officer.

New LightUp Diagnostics Assays Will Include Molecular Probes’ Technology

LightUp Technologies will launch DNA analysis products, including diagnostic assays, using unique fluorescence-based technology newly licensed from Molecular Probes, the companies said last week.

The LightUp probe products can be used to identify and quantify the presence of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens by detecting and analyzing DNA. Molecular Probes will supply reactive stains that increase sensitivity in detecting DNA and other nucleic acids.

LightUp probe products containing the new technology are expected to launch next month, LightUp said.

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