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Pfizer, Transgenomic, Nanogen, CytRx, Serologicals, CombiMatrix, Genedata, Schering, Bristol-Myers


Pfizer Sells Diagnostics Unit To Pair of Investment Firms

Pfizer will sell Pharmacia’s diagnostics business to a pair of private-equity investment firms for $575 million, the company said this week.

Pfizer, the biggest drug maker in the world, said it agreed to sell the unit to Triton, an independent European private equity firm, and PPM Ventures, the private equity division of UK-based Prudential.

Pfizer has put been trying to sell Pharmacia’s diagnostics unit since it bought Pharmacia in July, and said the division, though healthy, “is not aligned” with the drug giant’s commercial focus [see 7/3/03 SNPtech Pharmacogenomics Reporter].

The divestiture will affect some 1,100 employees worldwide and might eventually remove the Pharmacia brand from the modest number of diagnostic products the company sells in 60 countries.

The business, based in Uppsala, Sweden, makes diagnostics for allergy, asthma, and autoimmune diseases. Its main product is ImmunoCAP, which is used to determine the presence and severity of certain allergens.

The diagnostics business had 2002 sales of $220 million. Pfizer’s revenue, by comparison, was $32.4 billion that year.

Transgenomic to Market, Sell Nanogen’s NanoChip Platform in Parts of Europe

Transgenomic will market and sell Nanogen’s NanoChip molecular biology workstation in selected Western European countries.

The reason, according to both companies, is that the NanoChip platform “complements” the ability of Transgenomic’s WAVE system to scan for unknown gene mutations, and that Transgenomic “has a large, well-established European customer base.”

“This agreement is part of a strategy of providing total complementary solutions for the genetic research and clinical laboratory markets in Europe,” said Collin D’Silva, Transgenomic’s CEO.

CytRx Drops Support for Up-Start Chip-Reader Firm Blizzard Genomics

CytRx will stop supporting Blizzard Genomics, and write off its existing investments as losses, the company said on Friday.

Los Angeles-based CytRx said there is “substantial doubt about [the company’s ability] to continue as [a] going concern.” As a result, CytRx plans to write off its investments in Blizzard in the last quarter of 2003.

GGC Pharmaceuticals, which merged with CytRx in 2002, had invested about $1.7 million in cash in Blizzard and Psynomics, another company from which CytRx has withdrawn support. Since the merger, CytRx has invested less than $25,000 in the companies. The carrying value of these companies, as of Sept. 30, was about $5.9 million.

Officials from Blizzard or Psynomics were unavailable for comment.

Serologicals Licenses from Suite of Cancer Risk Proteins and Antibodies from Myriad

Serologicals’ Chemicon International division has licensed certain tumor suppressor and breast cancer proteins and antibodies made by Myriad Genetics, the companies said last week.

The exclusive agreement, which enables Chemicon to use the targets only for research purposes, covers the BRCA1, BRCA2, p16, p15, and p14 proteins and antibodies. However, the deal “excludes commercial therapeutic and diagnostic rights and rights to fields of use that Chemicon does not currently serve,” the firm said.

CombiMatrix, Wash U to Create Libraries on Chips

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis will use microarrays from CombiMatrix to develop chip-based molecular libraries, CombiMatrix said this week.

The research will be funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Researchers at Wash U plan to synthesize libraries of non-nucleic acid molecules on CombiMatrix’s NanoArrays.

CombiMatrix’s platform uses electrochemically and independently addressable microelectrodes on semiconductor chips.

Genedata and Schering Expand Collaboration

Genedata and Schering have expanded their four-year drug discovery collaboration, the companies said.

Schering is extending its license for Expressionist, Genedata’s computational system for large-scale gene expression analysis, and will integrate and expand it across several of its corporate sites. Genedata will provide consulting services and the two companies will construct a custom database system.

Bristol-Myers Tests SAS Software For Gene Expression, Proteomics

Bristol Myers-Squibb will test software from SAS to streamline its research processes and improve collaborations, SAS said last week.

During a three-month pilot project, BMS scientists will use SAS Microarray Solution and SAS Research Data Management to co-develop statistical methods for analyzing their gene expression data. The partners also plan to use SAS Proteomics Solution to analyze mass spectrometry data.

SAS, based in Cary, N.C., plans to release SAS Proteomics Solution this year.


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