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PolyGenyx, Orchid Biosciences, Roche, Lynx, National Institute of Aging, National Institute of Justice


Haplotyping Startup PolyGenyx Pockets $1 Million Grant from NIH

Worcester, Mass.-based haplotyping startup PolyGenyx has won a $997,000 two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop its haplotyping assays. Co-founder John Landers told SNPtech Reporter that the company will use part of the money to hire approximately four researchers.

The technology, based on the Luminex 100 microbead system, requires less than one hour for users to haplotype samples that involve two-SNP or multi-SNP haplotypes, according to Landers. (See SNPtech Reporter, Feb. 28)

He said PolyGenyx is in discussions with “several” diagnostic companies to help develop diagnostic haplotyping assays, as well as with “companies selling research products.”

Orchid: Higher Revenue, Miniscule R&D Tab Helped Trim Losses in Q1

Orchid Biosciences last week said that total revenue for the period ended March 31 increased to $12.7 million from $11.7 million year over year.

First-quarter R&D spending fell to $1.1 million from $5.4 million in the year-ago period. As a result, net loss narrowed by more than half to $5.2 million, or $.09 per share, from $10.5 million, or $.21 per share, in the first quarter last year. Orchid said it had approximately $12.4 million in cash and cash equivalents as of March 31.

The company is still looking for a CEO.

Roche Dx to Launch Six GeneChip Diagnostics Within 18 Months …

A Roche official last week said that the company will introduce six new diagnostic products over the next 18 months based on the Affymetrix GeneChip platform it licensed in January.

In a widely reported news conference in Switzerland, Heino von Prondzynski, the head of Roche’s diagnostics division identified what tests the company plans to introduce into the market.

Initially, the company will roll out the AmpliChip CYP450 microarray for lab use in the US in May. The chip, designed by Roche and manufactured by Affymetrix, will be sold as an analyte-specific reagent.

… And will Prematurely nix Hematology Deal with Sysmex

Roche Diagnostics will end a distributorship, sales, and service agreement with Sysmex one year ahead of schedule, the companies said last week.

The deal, penned in February and originally slated to end in 2004, had Roche selling Sysmex’s hematology products in the United States. However, Roche will continue distributing the products outside the United States. In addition, Sysmex, based in Tokyo, will continue a supply and distribution relationship with Roche Diagnostics throughout Latin America and Canada.

A Roche spokesman said a new end date has not been set, but added it will likely discontinue selling the products sometime in July. The spokesman, Joel Reuter, told SNPtech Reporter that though hematology products “are important” to molecular diagnostics, they are not as profitable as other diagnostic components.

Sysmex, based in Tokyo, is currently expanding its business with new hires and a plan to move into larger headquarters. Additionally, “many current Roche employees” who are “directly involved” with the hematology business — ”including positions in sales, service, support, contracts, and operations” — will be considered for employment by Sysmex.

Lynx, National Institute of Aging Pen Services Deal

Lynx Therapeutics has penned a service agreement with the National Institute on Aging of the NIH to study stem cell gene expression using its MPSS technology.

The company said that an analysis of human astrocyte precursor cells undertaken for Cue Therapeutics helped propel the NIA to initiate analysis of additional human stem cells using Lynx’s massively parallel signature sequencing technology.

Commonwealth Biotechnologies Pockets $25M in US Gov’t Plan to Boost Forensics

The National Institute of Justice will pay Commonwealth Biotechnologies $25 million over the next year in exchange for using its genotyping technology at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a local business web site.

Richmond, Va.-based Commonwealth Biotechnologies, a contract research organization, won the blanket purchase agreement “to perform DNA genotyping work that will assist in clearing a backlog” of DNA samples at the FBI, said the web site,

The move by the NIJ is part of a Bush Administration plan to earmark $232.6 million in fiscal 2004 to whittle away at the FBI’s enormous backlog of DNA samples (see SNPtech Reporter, March 14, 2003).

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