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Roche, BioVeris, Illumina, Roche, Emiliem, Invitrogen, Roche, MDS, Molecular Devices

Roche to Acquire BioVeris for $600 Million
Roche has agreed to acquire BioVeris for $21.50 per share in cash, or approximately $600 million.
“This acquisition will allow Roche Diagnostics to expand its immunochemistry business from the human diagnostics field into new market segments such as life science research, life science development, patient self testing, veterinary testing, drug discovery, drug development and clinical trials,” BioVeris said in a statement this week.
The acquisition will give Roche Dx access to BioVeris’ electrochemiluminescence technology in its Elecsys product line. This access will allow “Roche Diagnostics the opportunity to fully exploit the entire immunochemistry market,” BioVeris said.

Illumina Technology Used in Studies Searching for Genetic Clues For Prostate Cancer and Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Illumina announced this week that scientists from the National Cancer Institute identified a new polymorphism correlated to prostate cancer using its Infinium HumanHap300 and HumanHap240S BeadChips.
Researchers identified a specific single nucleotide polymorphism, rs6983267, which, along with other SNPs identified by NCI scientists, could explain the reason why 25 percent of prostate cancer cases develop in white men.
In a separate study published in Lancet Neurology on March 12 researchers also identified 34 variations in the human genetic code, that may offer clues to the underlying causes for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In this study, scientists from the National Institute of Mental Health used Illumina's HumanHap550 BeadChip to produce more than 300 million genotypes searching for SNPs that increase ALS risk.

Roche, Swiss Non-profit Team to Study IVD Use in Developing Countries
Roche Diagnostics will work with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics to study the potential uses of in vitro diagnostics for “poverty related” diseases, the groups said this week.
Under the plan, FIND, a Swiss non-profit that promotes health in developing countries, will conduct product evaluation studies with Roche’s help. These programs will attempt to adapt IVD technology to the needs of underprivileged populations, especially those at risk for tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, and malaria.  
FIND CEO Giorgio Roscigno said the group is “hopeful that IVD tools that are efficient, user-friendly, and affordable can significantly increase the quality of diagnosis in these regions.”
FIND is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the US Agency for International Development, the European Union, and the Dutch Government.

Emiliem Will Use Invitrogen's SelectScreen Tech to Study Cancer Compounds
Emiliem and Invitrogen will screen Emiliem’s multi-kinase inhibitors under a partnership agreement, the companies said last week.
The companies said they will use Invitrogen’s SelectScreen for kinase and P450 screening and cellular pathway profiling to study Emiliem’s cancer compounds.  
The two-phase agreement calls for Invitrogen to confirm specificity and potency of Emiliem’s compounds, to study the effects of these compounds on biological pathways, and to use metabolizing liver enzymes to determine profiles of lead molecules.
The SelectScreen service uses enzyme collections and cell lines.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Roche to Acquire 454 for $155M, Plans to Use Sequencer for IVD Applications
Roche Diagnostics announced plans last week to acquire 454 Life Sciences from CuraGen in a deal worth $155 million in cash and stock.
Under the deal, Roche will put up $140 million in cash and as much as $14.9 million in outstanding stock options to acquire the subsidiary, which is now seeing early sales of its next-generation sequencers.
Roche, which has been 454’s exclusive distributor since 2005, said the acquisition will solidify its access to future 454 sequencers and enable it to use the tools for in vitro diagnostic applications. The original marketing alliance forbade Roche from selling the sequencers for "regulated diagnostics" uses.
Roche said 454 and its 167 employees will remain at its headquarters in Branford, Conn.
Roche Diagnostics CEO Severin Schwan called the companies’ marketing and distribution agreement “very successful,” and said this deal “is part of our strategy to strengthen our position as a major player in the sequencing market.”
CuraGen said $25 million will be placed in escrow for 15 months, and that it expects to receive about $85 million before fees and expenses.
The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.
The acquisition comes around eight months after CuraGen disclosed it had begun weighing “strategic options” for the 454 business, which included divesting the unit, spinning it out as a public company, and other ideas.
Today, CuraGen CEO Frank Armstrong said the sale will allow the company to “gain liquidity on our investment” and to focus on pushing its oncology products toward the market.

MDS Closes $615M Molecular Devices Acquisition
MDS said last week it has closed its $615 million acquisition of Molecular Devices.
MDS is using the purchase to create a new segment, MDS Analytical Technologies, which is a hybrid of Molecular Devices and the MDS Sciex business.
MDS Sciex President Andy Boorn will lead the new business unit.
The two businesses had combined revenues of $432 million last year, and MDS expects Molecular Devices to contribute $190 million in revenue over the coming year, the company said in January.

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The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.