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National Institutes of Health, Paradigm Genetics, TissueInformatics, BioTrove, Sumitomo, Oxford Finance, Beckman Coulter, IntegraGen, Aventis, San Diego State, Invitrogen, Pfizer, CardioDynamics, Gen-Probe, Abbott, Caprion

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NIH to See Mild Increase in FY 2005; Mad Cow Programs to Jump Nearly 40 Percent

The National Institutes of Health will have around 2.6 percent more money to spend in fiscal year 2005 than it had in fiscal 2004 if the US Congress approves President Bush’s budget, the Office of Management and Budget reported this week.

The NIH can expect its operating budget for fiscal 2005, which begins Oct. 1, to increase to $28.6 billion from $27.9 billion in fiscal 2004. The increase is slightly below the overall increase in the fiscal 2005 federal budget, which tipped the scales at $2.4 trillion — a 3.5-percent jump from fiscal 2004, the OMB said.

The proposed budget also plans to set aside an additional $8.3 million to help the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture “enhance enforcement” of federal regulations guarding against the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

This increase, which is 40 percent more than the FDA or USDA spent on similar work in fiscal 2004, also includes programs for identifying and tracking BSE in cattle. Several genotyping technologies, including the mass spec-based platform developed by Sequenom, are currently used to identify and keep track of cattle populations suspected of being infected with the neurological disorder.

Read the complete budget proposal here.


Paradigm Genetics to Buy TissueInformatics for $7.8M

Paradigm Genetics plans to acquire TissueInformatics in an all-stock deal that may eventually be worth $7.8 million if based on the closing price of Paradigm shares on the day last week that the deal was disclosed.

TissueInformatics, which is based in Pittsburgh, Pa., develops automated pathology software for the quantitative analysis of tissue changes in drug discovery, disease assessment, toxicology, and tissue engineering, the company said.

Paradigm, of Research Triangle Park, NC, intends to use these technologies in its biomarker and target-discovery efforts. Paradigm will also obtain a portfolio of drug targets and diagnostics products in diabetes, obesity, and ageing through TissueInformatics’ joint venture with Diathegen.

Terms of the deal call for Paradigm to issue approximately 3.4 million shares immediately, while around 2.7 million additional shares are subject to undisclosed performance milestones. Based on the closing price of Paradigm shares on Jan. 29, which was $1.28, the total cost for the acquisition in stock would be $7.8 million. Paradigm also stands to pocket approximately $2.7 million in cash and assume roughly $150,000 in long-term debt and capital lease obligations if the deal closes.

If the deal closes, Paradigm will employ 225 people — Paradigm currently employs around 200 people, and TissueInformatics 24 people — and it will continue to be based in Research Triangle Park. TissueInformatics’ operations in Pittsburgh will remain in operation, Paradigm said. (See related article on page 2.)


BioTrove Raises $10.9M in VC Cash

BioTrove has raised $10.9 million in financing to develop its Living Chip technology and assays, the company said last week.

The company, based in Woburn, Mass., is aiming the technology, which is a nanofluidics platform, at analysis of genomic, proteomic, cellular, and other biochemical samples. It also is developing a mass-spectrometry service, called Momentum Assay Development and Screening, for microliter-scale assays and screening.

Investors in the round include Catalyst Health and Technology Partners, CB Health Ventures, Zero Stage Capital, and BioFrontier Partners.

BioTrove has appointed to its board of directors Ben Bronstein, a managing director at Zero Stage Capital.


Sumitomo to Acquire Life Sciences VC Oxford Finance

Genomics financial backer Oxford Finance will be acquired by Sumitomo of Japan, the companies announced last week.

If the deal goes through, Sumitomo would acquire all of Oxford’s assets for $51 million, plus the assumption of certain liabilities related to its businesses, Oxford said in a statement.

Sumitomo said it believes the transaction will enable Oxford to triple its portfolio in the next three years and offer its clients and venture capitalists increased access to the Japanese life sciences community, as well as expand its client base and line of products.

Privately held and based in Alexandria, Va., Oxford has financed several life sciences tools companies, including US Genomics, Structural Genomix, and Cellular Genomics. The company said it has a total of 50 active portfolio companies.


Beckman Coulter Said Q4 Revenues, Earnings Jump

Beckman Coulter last week said fourth-quarter revenues increased to $638.6 million from $595.5 million during the same period last year; sales in the Biomedical Research sector accounted for $200.4 million of this.

R&D spending during the quarter grew to $54.9 million from $45.7 million last year, while net income increased to $70.4 million, or $1.14 per share, from $33.5 million, or $.54 per share, one year ago. Part of this increase was due to a $23 million litigation settlement Beckman received from Flextronics International.

As of Dec. 31, 2003, Beckman had cash and cash equivalents of $74.6 million.


IntegraGen and Aventis Ink Schizophrenia Collaboration

IntegraGen and Aventis will jointly search for genes associated with schizophrenia, the companies announced last week.

Aventis will use IntegraGen’s Genome Hybrid Identity Profiling gene-mapping technology to perform genome-wide linkage analysis on DNA samples from schizophrenia patients, collected by Aventis’ Human Genetics Center in Evry, France.

This is IntegraGen’s first commercial deal for the application of GenomeHIP, according to the company, which is located in suburban Paris.


San Diego State Teams Up with Biotech Shops to Teach Biology and Business

San Diego State University, Invitrogen, Pfizer, and CardioDynamics are teaming up to establish a joint PhD-MBA program in the life sciences, Invitrogen said this week.

The aim is to educate studies in scientific research as well as the business of biotechnology, the groups said. The program is poised to expand from a two-student pilot program that SDSU launched last September. SDSU offers the PhD part of the program in conjunction with the University of California, San Diego.

Invitrogen, Pfizer, and CardioDynamics are funding the startup phase of the program. In addition, Carlsbad, Calif.-based Invitrogen offers students lectures, case studies, and internships.

At the moment, SDSU is trying to raise additional funding for the program.


Gen-Probe Eyes Entrée Into Genetic Testing Space

Look for Gen-Probe to start inching its way into the genetic-testing marketplace. Herm Rosenman, vice president of finance and CFO of the DNA probe-technology company, said Gen-Probe sees “significant opportunities for genetic testing.”

There are “future opportunities in pharmacogenomics and genetic testing simply because the probes that we manufacture and sell result in very accurate and rapid diagnostic tests,” Rosenman said following his presentation to investors at the Piper Jaffray conference in New York City last week.

Today, Gen-Probe is a dominant player in the nucleic acid-testing space. It offers an array of blood screening service, and tests for the presence of a handful of infectious diseases.

The firm currently tests blood supplies as well as individuals for the presence of HIV; hepatitis A, B, and C; West Nile virus; Parvo B-19 virus; some sexually transmitted disease; and fungal disease.


Abbott, Caprion Pen Deal for Lung Cancer Targets

Abbott will evaluate a number of Caprion's cell surface drug targets for non-small-cell lung cancer, and plans to add additional targets from an ongoing Caprion project, the companies said this week.

 

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In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.