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Orchid BioSciences, Roche Diagnostics, Amersham Biosciences, European Patent Office, Affymetrix, PreAnalytix, Molecular Devices, Ingenuity, Decode, International Nutrigenomics Panel

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UK’s Tepnel to Acquire Orchid’s Diagnostics Unit for $4.3 Million

Completing the latest step in Orchid BioSciences’ year-long departure [see 3/7/03 SNPtech Reporter] from a molecular-diagnostics and SNP-genotyping businesses, Orchid said that British life-sciences instrumentation and services provider Tepnel Life Sciences will buy its diagnostics unit for $4.3 million.

Terms of the acquisition, which is expected to close during the fourth quarter, call for Tepnel to buy Orchid’s product and services business in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.

Tepnel, based in Manchester, UK, will also assume certain liabilities of the business, and will assume control of Orchid’s facilities in Stamford, Conn., and Brussels, Belgium. The companies said they expect all of Orchid’s current employees to stay with Tepnel.

The completion of the acquisition is subject to a secondary public offering of shares from Tepnel and final approval by Tepnel’s shareholders.


Roche Delays Delays Matrixarray Launch

Roche Diagnostics has told CombiMatrix that it will not be launching the matriXarray product suite in 2003. The suite, which was to be launched before the end of the year, is being developed under an agreement between CombiMatrix and Roche.

No new launch date has been set.

In July 2001, Roche Diagnostics entered into a 15-year agreement to purchase, use and resell CombiMatrix’s biochips. The worldwide, non-exclusive deal includes minimum payments by Roche to CombiMatrix during the first three years of the agreement, including royalties, payments for products, and R&D projects. The deal also stipulates that the companies develop a joint platform technology for standardized biochips.

“This unique platform will be useful for multiple applications, including gene expression studies, single nucleotide polymorphism analysis, disease classification, pathway identification, and toxicology studies, Susanne Raehs, head of Roche Applied Science, said in a statement.


Amersham Biosciences to Make Custom Laboratory Workflow System to Windber

Amersham Biosciences will design a customized version of its Scierra Solutions laboratory workflow system for the Windber Research Institute, which will use it in its clinical breast cancer project [see 9/4/03 SNPtech Reporter].

Windber, of Windber, Penn., has already been using Scierra systems for gene expression, sequencing, genotyping, and proteomics. The new system ads the capability of compiling information on patient histories, patient samples, and pathology, and being integrated with the company’s genomics and proteomics data.

The parties did not disclose the financial terms of the agreement.


Europe’s Patent Appeal Board Overturns Taq-PCR Revocation

The Technical Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office has upheld Roche Diagnostics’ patent for certain “key” PCR-process enzymes related to European Patent No. 0 258 017.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, addresses whether the claims of Roche’s application for the Taq polymerase is patentable. “The TBA found that Roche’s amended claims met all formal European Patent Convention requirements and were indeed patentable over the prior art objections raised by the opponents,” Roche said in a statement.

As a result, the TBA upheld Roche’s patent in an undisclosed “amended” form, with claims covering issues such as native and recombinant full-length Taq DNA polymerase, DNA encoding full-length or truncated Taq DNA polymerase, composition comprising Taq DNA polymerase and “one or more non-ionic detergents,” Roche said.

Roche was granted European Patent No. 0 258 017 on June 4, 1997. Four companies opposed it: Becton, Dickinson; Bioline; New England Biolabs; and Promega. After opposition proceedings, the EPO Opposition Division revoked the patent four years later. Roche appealed to the TBA last month, and the group has overturned the OD decision.


Affy Collaborates with PreAnalytix on Whole-Blood Expression Profiling

Affymetrix and Swiss-based company PreAnalytix will use PreAnalytix’s blood RNA system with Affy’s GeneChip arrays to analyze whole blood for expression-profiling research.

The goal of the non-exclusive agreement is to reduce the variability in the preparation processes involved with screening whole-blood samples, and a reduction in the signal contributed by globin RNA when analyzing whole blood.


Amersham Signs Expanded License to OGT Patents

With eyes on moving its CodeLink microarray into the molecular-diagnostics arena, Amersham has signed an expanded license to use Oxford Gene Technologies’ DNA microarray patents.

The new license gives Amersham the rights to OGT’s sequence-variation patents, as well as patents relating to analysis of polynucleotide sequences. The license also gives Amersham the right to sublicense the technology.

This licensing deal was designed to facilitate the entry of Amersham’s CodeLink microarray technology into the personalized medicine arena, particularly in clinical diagnostics, Amersham said.

“This agreement now paves the way for Amersham to expand the CodeLink product family and to develop CodeLink as a clinical diagnostic platform,” Amersham CEO William Castell said in a statement.


Molecular Devices Settles Patent Suit with Caliper

Molecular Devices has settled a patent-infringement suit filed by Caliper Technologies in 2002 involving Molecular Devices’ IMAP kinase assay products.

Terms of the settlement call for Molecular Devices to pay Caliper a one-time licensing fee as well as royalties based on future sales of IMAP products. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

The lawsuit alleged that Molecular Devices’ IMAP assay products infringed Caliper’s US Patent Nos. 6,287,774 and 6,472,141, which cover methods and systems for performing assays in which the reaction product has a different charge than the substrate. The product or substrate is bound to a polyionic component, and the binding is detected by conventional methods, including fluorescence polarization.


Ingenuity Licenses Pathways Analysis Technology to Stanford Genome Center

Ingenuity has licensed its Pathways Analysis technology to the Stanford Genome Technology Center.

The Pathways Analysis system maps relationships between proteins, genes, complexes, cells, tissues, drugs, and diseases. Ron Davis, director of the Genome Center, first used the software in beta release. Davis’ lab is collaborating with Ingenuity, of Mountain View, Calif., to develop new functionality to extend its capabilities.

Ingenuity has also recently licensed its Pathways Knowledge database to GlaxoSmithKline, and has signed a software-distribution agreement with Affy.


Decode Identifies Mutations Linked to Osteoporosis

A mutated version of the bone morphogenetic protein-2, or BMP2, gene is believed to increase the risk in certain women of developing osteoporosis, Decode Genetics said.

Led by Unnur Styrkarsdottir, a team of Decode researchers studied the genomes of 207 Icelandic families with at least one member who had both low bone-mineral density and bone fractures. The researchers found that about 30 percent of those tested had one of three versions of the gene that gave them three times the risk of osteoporosis compared to others.

The BMP-2 gene has several known mutations. Decode found that three of them increased the risk for developing osteoporosis — 30 percent of the study patients had one or another of them. However, Decode stressed that one or all of these mutations do not by themselves trigger osteoporosis; traditional environmental factors — diet and exercise — contribute equally.


International ‘Nutrigenomics’ Panel Seeks Input for Ethical Guidelines

An international panel of scientists is seeking feedback on ethical questions surrounding the emerging field of nutrigenomics — the study of how nutrients and genes interact and how genetic variations can cause people to respond differently to food nutrients.

The nine-member panel has released an initial consultation paper, “Nutrition and Genes: Science, Society and the Supermarket,” designed to foster public debate by introducing issues to be considered before consumers begin customizing diets to match their genetic profiles in the interest of preventing or managing chronic health conditions [read it here]. It will be presented at the second International Nutrigenomics Conference in Amsterdam on Nov. 6-7.

The paper, a joint project of the University of Toronto Joint Center for Bioethics and the philosophy department of the University of Guelph, identifies several principal issues for discussion, including the uncertainty surrounding the market-readiness of genomic testing technology; questions about who should and should not have access to nutritional genomics information; questions about the best mechanisms for delivering nutritional genomics information to consumers; and concerns about potential nutrigenomics-related inequities. In addition, the paper raises the question of which nutritional genomics concerns should be the subject of regulation and oversight by the US FDA and other regulatory agencies.

Filed under

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.