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ParAllele, Genaissance, Decode Genetics, Transgenomic, Ciphergen, Affymetrix, BioMerieux, Specialty Laboratories, Sequenom, Siemens, Orchid


ParAllele Licenses SNPs from Genaissance for
MegAllele; Genaissance to Market it for Research Use

Genaissance Pharmaceuticals and ParAllele BioScience have penned a joint licensing and co-marketing agreement for ParAllele's upcoming MegAllele DME-T assay panel, the firms said this week.

Under the terms of the agreement, ParAllele will license more than 400 proprietary SNPs from Genaissance. These will be combined with SNPs from the public domain to make up a total of around 1,500 SNPs that ParAllele will incorporate into MegAllele DME-T, which will assay around 160 genes that are involved in drug metabolism and transport pathways.

Genaissance will market the panel for research use only in GLP-compliant environments.

In mid-March, ParAllele said that it had teamed up with Eli Lilly to make the DME-T panel available for contract research organizations to genotype Lilly's clinical trial participants [see PGx Reporter 3/17/05]. This application for the assay panel is expected to be available by August or September.

ParAllele also said at the time that it would file for FDA approval to market a version of the assay as an in vitro diagnostic.

The panel will run on Affymetrix's GeneChip platform.

Decode Sells Reykjavik HQ; Profit
To Help Internal Drug Development

Decode Genetics has sold its headquarters in Iceland to real-estate company Festing ehf for $55 million, and will lease the property back from the firm for 15 years, Decode said in an SEC filing this week.

Decode will use the proceeds from the sale to prepay approximately $36 million in long-term debt that was secured by mortgages on the property, as well as $4.5 million in "short-term borrowing," Decode said in the filing.

Decode expects to write off $1.2 million in capitalized borrowing costs charged due to the prepayment. Decode said it will use the remainder of the proceeds — roughly $14.5 million — "to advance" its drug-development programs.

The deal, struck on March 31, calls for Decode to lease back the property under a non-cancelable lease agreement for 21,420,000 Icelandic kronas (around $350,000) per month, "subject to changes based on the Icelandic consumer price index."

The monthly rent will be revised as of July 1, 2010, to "reflect changes in capital markets as well as Decode's credit quality," Decode said.

Decode will continue to pay property taxes and insurance and will be responsible for the property's maintenance, the company said.

Transgenomic Receives Nasdaq Delisting Warning;
Has Until Sept. 27 to Raise Share Price Above $1

Transgenomic has until Sept. 27 to lift its shares above $1 or risk being delisted from the Nasdaq exchange, the company said in an SEC filing this week.

Shares in Transgenomic have closed below $1 for 30 consecutive trading days, which is the Nasdaq's minimum price threshold for continued listing.

According to the SEC filing, Transgenomic received a letter from the exchange on March 31 stating that for "the last 30 days the bid price of [Transgenomic's] common stock has closed below the minimum $1.00 per share requirement for continued inclusion under Marketplace Rule 4450(a)(5).

"In accordance with Marketplace Rule 4450(e)(2), Registrant will be provided 180 calendar days, or until September 27, 2005, to regain compliance," according to the filing.

Transgenomic said it "has not determined an action or response to the notice as of the time of this filing."

Ciphergen Expects 50-Percent Drop in First-Quarter
Revenues; 'Broadly' Restructures Sales Program

Ciphergen Biosystems said this week that disappointing sales will cause revenues for the first quarter to fall significantly short of earlier expectations. The company now expects to generate between $6.3 million and $6.7 million in revenues — or about half its receipts during the same period last year.

Earlier this year, Ciphergen projected first-quarter revenues of between $8 million and $9 million.

In response to the shortfall, Ciphergen said it has started restructuring its sales program, including installing a new vice president of North American and European sales. The company also said it would boost its public relations effort.

"We are disappointed with our anticipated sales results for the first quarter," CEO Bill Rich said in a statement. He added that Ciphergen is "enthusiastic about the future growth of the company as we continue to address the emerging biomarker proteomics research, pharma and diagnostic markets."

Ciphergen said it will discuss company activities in a conference call on May 6, when it plans to release its first-quarter earnings.

Pacific Growth Equities, which covers Ciphergen, said in a report this week that it is "starting to look grim" for the proteomics company. Pacific Growth expects Ciphergen to make between $4 million and $5 million in additional cuts in costs.

The company's cash position, approximately $30 million, which is expected to last for one year of operations, "is worrisome to us," the investment bank said. It said it expects Ciphergen shares to fall further "as the company has missed every quarter since we initiated coverage over a year ago."

Since Jan. 1, Ciphergen's shares have lost about 40 percent of their value, and the stock last night closed a penny above its 52-week low.

Ciphergen's announcement came soon after a number of shareholders called for a no-confidence vote to oust top management.

Affymetrix Broadens Technology Deal
with BioMerieux to Cancer Diagnostics

Affymetrix has expanded an existing technology agreement with diagnostics company BioMerieux to include further disease areas, the companies said this week.

Under the agreement, BioMerieux, of Marcy L'Etoile, France, has non-exclusive rights to Affymetrix's GeneChip technology, including future improvements, to develop and market in vitro diagnostics for breast cancer. The company also has the option to broaden this agreement to other cancers.

Under an agreement from late 2003, BioMerieux has had the right to use Affy's GeneChip technology to develop tests for virulence factors, bacterial strain typing, sepsis diagnosis, hepatitis C, as well as respiratory and central nervous system infectious panels.

The companies did not disclose financial terms of the new agreement.

Specialty Laboratories Joins Siemens and
Sequenom to Evaluate MassArray for Clinical Dx

Speciality Laboratories will help Sequenom and Siemens to validate Sequenom's MassArray genotyping platform for clinical diagnostics, the San Diego-based company said this week.

Under the collaboration, Sequenom will install its MassArray Compact system at Specialty's clinical laboratory facility, where the platform's analytical data quality and current workflow will be evaluated in a benchmarking study expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2005.

The deal is part of an agreement between Siemens and Sequenom from late 2004, under which Siemens has bought and plans to install four MassArray systems in certain diagnostics and clinical labs in Europe and North America.

Orchid CEO to Pocket
$192K Bonus on April 29

Orchid Biosciences CEO Paul Kelly will receive a $192,500 bonus on April 29, the company said in an SEC filing this week.

News of the bonus, which is for 2004, comes after Orchid recently reported strong growth in fourth-quarter sales. Orchid BioSciences recorded a 29-percent increase in fourth-quarter revenues.

The Princeton, NJ-firm said total revenues for the three-month period ended Dec. 31, 2004, increased to $17.6 million from $13.7 million for the year-ago period. Orchid said the increase came from a jump in forensics testing from its new private human identification and family-relationship testing services.

R&D spending for the quarter increased to $335,00 from $209,000 year over year, Orchid said.

Orchid also said it posted a net income of $668,000, or $.03 per share, compared to a net loss of $7.3 million, or $.46, in the fourth quarter of 2003.

The company reported cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments of $30.5 million on hand as of Dec. 31.

Filed under

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.