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Novartis Pharma, Compugen, Nasdaq Exchange, Orchid BioSciences, Genomics, Exelixis


Novartis Extends License Agreement with Compugen

Novartis Pharma has extended its license for Compugen’s LEADS computational biology platform for an additional year, Compugen said today.

The collaboration between the two firms, which began in August 2001, will also be expanded to include DNA probe design. Under the renewed agreement, Compugen said it would design a genome-wide collection of DNA probes for Novartis based on data from its transcriptome analysis research, which accounts for alternative splicing and naturally occurring antisense.

The additional year will complete the maximum three-year term of the original agreement between the companies.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Nasdaq Exchange Grants Orchid A Stay of Delisting

The Nasdaq exchange told Orchid BioSciences last week that it has “regained compliance” with its minimum bid price, and will continue trading on the exchange. Orchid would have been delisted from the exchange on June 24 for failing to keep its share price above $1 for 90 days.

The move also Orchid’s board to spike plans for a reverse stock split, which shareholders had approved in early fall.

The move by the Nasdaq is a favorable outcome for Orchid — and a bit of good news for its new CEO — which has been struggling in recent months to trim its cash burn, regain its listing status, and remain solvent.

After former CEO Dale Pfost was sacked last December, the company took steps to shore up its spending by selling its life sciences business (see SNPtech Reporter, Jan. 17, 2003). One week later, with just $8.5 million in cash and equivalents in the bank, the company was thrown a lifeline in the form of $10 million in revolving bank credit.

Then in April, one month after announcing plans to sell its diagnostics division, Orchid caught a second lifeline when the exchange allowed it to nab $16 million in a private stock placement.

Genomics Collaborative Helps Boston Cure Project for MS

Genomics Collaborative has signed an agreement with the Boston Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis to further develop the group’s blood, tissue, and databank study, the groups said last week.

Terms of the agreement call for Genomics Collaborative to help develop protocols for the study, which is designed to find the causes of MS. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company will also help draft an informed consent form for participants, generate sample kits, enter and store medical and epidemiological sample data, and distribute samples to researchers.

The Boston Cure Project will pay Genomics Collaborative less than $200 per sample under a pay-as-you go plan, the companies said.

The tissue and databank is designed to increase collaboration among MS researchers and make MS more attractive as a scientific research area by providing access to a broad swathe of subjects and samples.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Exelixis to Develop siRNA Library With Dharmacon …

Exelixis and RNA-interference company Dharmacon intend to develop a short-interfering RNA library for roughly 600 proprietary and publicly available genes.

Dharmacon said it will use its SMARTselection and SMARTpool technology to help create the library, which is intended to find compounds for kinases and “other high priority drug-discovery targets.”

Additionally, the company’s 2’-ACE RNA synthesis chemistry will help manufacture it. Both Exelixis and Dharmacon will also apply their bioinformatics capabilities to develop the library, the companies said.

Exelixis plans to use the resulting siRNA reagents for high throughput functional-genomic studies designed to characterize drug targets and pathways in mammalian models. Dharmacon, for its part, will offer its customers siRNA research tools for the publicly available genes used in the research.

The companies expect the siRNA library to be completed during the third quarter of the year. Financial details were not disclosed.

… and Will Offer Up to 11.5M Common Shares

Exelixis plans to sell 10 million shares of its common stock, the company said yesterday. In addition, it intends to give underwriters the option to purchase up to an additional 1.5 million shares of common stock.

Based on Exelixis’ common stock trading price of about $9.05 this morning, the company stands to earn up to about $104 million from the offering.


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