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Ventana Medical Systems, Roche, University of Pittsburgh Medical School, Wafergen Biosystems, Affymetrix, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Aureus Pharma, Transgenomic, Applied Biosystems, BioTrove

Ventana Opens Books to Roche in Hopes of Fetching More Cash
Ventana Medical Systems has offered Roche a glimpse into its financial health as it hopes to convince the Swiss drug and diagnostics giant to spend some more on it than the $3 billion dollars it continues to offer.
Tucson, Ariz.-based Ventana, which has snubbed Roche’s unsolicited bid to acquire it at least four times, said it hopes the due diligence and related talks will “allow Roche to recognize the significant additional value inherent in Ventana's business.”
The step will give Roche access to information about Ventana’s business prospects and the value of its companion diagnostics.
Roche has extended at least four times its original offer to buy the diagnostics company for $75 a share, or around $3 billion dollars. Ventana has insisted that the offer, made in June, is too small. This week, it said the due-diligence agreement will make it evident that the standing offer is “grossly inadequate.”
Ventana added that it makes no assurances that this agreement allowing due diligence will lead to a merger, and reiterated that its board believes the current offer price “does not appropriately compensate Ventana’s stockholders for the inherent value of the company or its synergistic value to Roche.”

U Pitt Team to Use Wafergen’s Whole-Genome RT-PCR Platform for Biomarker Studies
The University of Pittsburgh Medical School will serve as the alpha test site for Wafergen Biosystems’ real-time PCR system, Wafergen said this week.
Through a research collaboration with a team led by Department of Medicine Chairman Steven Shapiro, the school will use the WaferGen SmartChip Real-Time PCR System in its efforts to identify biomarkers that are therapeutically useful for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and for lung cancer.
Wafergen said the SmartChip “is designed as the first whole-genome, high-throughput gene expression real-time polymerase chain reaction platform.”
Financial terms of the collaboration were not released.

Affymetrix to Offer $250M of Senior Convertible Notes
Affymetrix this week said that it has filed a shelf registration with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to offer $250 million of unsecured senior convertible notes due 2038.
Affy said that it expects to grant the offering’s underwriter an over-allotment option to purchase up to $37.5 million aggregate principal amount of additional notes.
The firm intends to use proceeds for working capital and general corporate purposes, which could include capital expenditures and potential acquisitions of business, products, or technologies. Affy also said that it may use the funds to repurchase or redeem all or a portion of its .75 percent senior convertible notes due 2033.
JP Morgan Securities is the sole book-running manager of the offering.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Licenses Three of Aureus Pharma’s Databases
Aureus Pharma said this week that Bristol-Myers Squibb will license three of its databases.
Under the agreement, BMS has renewed its license for Aureus’ AurScope GPCR, and it has signed new agreements to license the AurScope Kinase and Ion Channel Knowledge databases as well.
Aureus said its databases provide information on drug target classes and other pharma topics, including ADME and drug-drug interactions. This information has been mined from the scientific literature to help researchers design and prioritize experiments, the company said.
BMS and Aureus Pharma have been license partners since 2002.
Financial terms of the license were not released

Transgenomic's Q3 Sales up 6 Percent; R&D Spending Drives Loss
Transgenomic said last week third-quarter revenues rose 6 percent as R&D spending increased 23 percent and net loss widened by nearly 25 percent.
Total receipts for the three months ended Sept. 30 rose to $5.2 million from $4.9 million year over year.
Transgenomic CEO Craig Tuttle said in a statement that the increase in revenue “reflects continued growth in our molecular diagnostics reference lab and Pharmaceutical Services businesses.”
Tuttle also said that some instrument sales just missed the quarter and will be accounted for in the fourth quarter, and he added that both European sales and molecular diagnostics revenue were affected by “a summer slowdown.”
R&D spending rose to $720,000 from $586,000 year over year.
Transgenomic said its net loss was $1.3 million, compared to a loss of $1.7 million in the year-ago period.
Tuttle said the company has completed its consolidation program in Europe and has boosted its sales force, moves that should help it break even in the fourth quarter.
Transgenomic said it had around $6.5 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Sept. 30.

ABI, BioTrove Collaborate on Integrated Genotyping Platform
Applied Biosystems and BioTrove have struck two agreements that cover the integration and marketing of genotyping and gene-expression applications, as well as other genomics tools, the firms said this week.
Under one agreement, ABI will develop and market custom arrays of TaqMan SNP genotyping assays pre-loaded on BioTrove’s OpenArray, which is a flexible array format that allows researchers to perform over 3,000 different high-throughput genotyping assays in different configurations, ABI said.
This integrated platform will enable researchers to conduct high-throughput genotyping studies at a “lower total cost compared to commercially available methods,” ABI said.
ABI also will hold the rights to sell all genotyping applications, including some not based on its TaqMan technology, for the OpenArray. The company expects to begin selling these tools in the second half of 2008.
ABI said the integrated TaqMan and OpenArray platform will enable an end-to-end genotyping workflow of less than four hours, thus allowing researchers to analyze thousands of samples for large-scale genotyping projects in days rather than weeks.
The agreement also gives ABI an option to collaborate with BioTrove to develop and market the OpenArray for high-throughput gene-expression applications.
A second agreement gives BioTrove a worldwide license to ABI’s patents covering real-time thermal cyclers, microfluidics, and data analysis. This contract will allow BioTrove to make and sell real-time thermal cyclers and array sample loaders for life science research purposes and to develop more real-time PCR applications for the OpenArray, ABI added.

Financial terms of the agreements were not released.

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