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Gene Cartwright, John Puisis, Kevin Conroy, Walter Hewlett, Vicki Sato, John Berriman, Invitrogen, Xcyte, Genoway, Bruker, PanaTecs, U of Goettingen, and more

People

Gene Cartwright has been named president of molecular diagnostics for GE Healthcare, where his primary responsibility will be leading development of the firm's in vitro clinical diagnostics business. Cartwright joins GE from diagnostics giant Abbott Laboratories, where he most recently served as vice president of strategic programs for its molecular diagnostics business.


John Puisis has resigned as president and CEO of Third Wave Technologies, the firm said last week. Kevin Conroy, vice president and general counsel for the firm, has been named to those posts and has also joined the board of directors.

Conroy, 40 years old, came to Third Wave from GE Healthcare, where he helped integrate the firm's acquisition of Instrumentarium. A former lawyer, he also helped develop, manage, and grow the intellectual property portfolio of GE's its $1.3-billion patient-monitoring, medical imaging, and health care software business.


Walter Hewlett will retire from the board of directors of Agilent Technologies on March 1, 2006. He joined the board at the time of Agilent's spin off from Hewlett-Packard in 1999. Hewlett cited personal reasons for his decision to retire.


Vicki Sato has been named to Alnylam Pharmaceutical's board of directors, the company said last week.

Formerly president of Vertex Pharmaceuticals from 2000 to 2005, Sato also served as the company's chief scientific officer and chair of the scientific advisory board. Prior to joining Vertex, she held numerous leadership positions at Biogen (now Biogen Idec), and served as both assistant and associate professor in the Department of Biology at Harvard University from 1976 to 1983.

She is on both the board of directors and the scientific advisory board of Infinity Pharmaceuticals and is a member of the board of directors of PerkinElmer. She received her bachelor's, master's, and PhD from Harvard.

Along with Sato's appointment, Alynlam announced John Berriman's resignation from the board. No reason was provided.

BioCommerce Briefs

Invitrogen Buys Xcyte's T-Cell Technology; Inks Co-Marketing Deal with Genoway

Invitrogen will acquire Xcyte Therapies' T-cell expansion technology for $5 million in cash, the companies announced last week.

The acquired assets will include intellectual property for the technology, known as the "Xcellerate Process," raw materials and equipment, and clinical data from six clinical trials of Xcyte's lead product, Xcellerated T Cells.

For Invitrogen, the acquisition is aimed at buttressing the firm's immunotherapy offerings, and plays into its acquisition of Dynal, which closed in April. "We firmly believe T-cell based therapy will become an important contributor in the efforts to fight disease in the future," Oystein Amellem, business area manager for Invitrogen's Dynal Bead Based Separation group, said in a statement.

Xcyte has collaborated with Dynal Biotech in the production of Xcyte Dynabeads, the bead Xcyte uses to expand and activate T cells for "potential therapeutic indications in oncology and infectious disease," Xcyte said in a statement.

"Expansion of T cells ex vivo using Dynabeads to which anti-CD3 and anti-C28 monoclonal antibodies are linked may prove useful for the treatment of cancer, infectious diseases and recently autoimmune diseases," Amellem added.

Terms of the acquisition also call for Xcyte to receive an undisclosed percentage of any sublicensing revenue Invitrogen derives from licensing Xcyte's intellectual property for therapeutic purposes. This part of the deal is subject to certain minimum revenue requirements, the firms said.

The transaction is subject to certain customary closing conditions, including the approval of Xcyte's stockholders.

Separately, Invitrogen and Genoway will co-market RNAi-related services, the companies said last week.

Under the agreement, Invitrogen will combine its expertise in RNAi research technologies with Genoway's portfolio of transgenesis technologies and RNAi in vivo experience to create a new services platform. The platform will allow RNAi vector design through the creation of RNAi transgenic rodent models.

Both companies will share revenues, Genoway said.

Additional details were not disclosed.

In the wake of these deals and a realignment of the firm's business units, investment bank UBS upped its stock-price target for Invitrogen to $83. The firm's shares closed Tuesday at $66.95.


Bruker in Molecular Diagnostics Pact with PanaTecs, U of Goettingen

Bruker Daltonik, the University of Goettingen, and PanaTecs will collaborate to develop molecular diagnostic assays for rheumatoid arthritis, Bruker said this week.

In the joint project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research, PanaTecs will apply Bruker Daltonics' CLINPROT technology for biomarker discovery, profiling and identification in the field of rheumatoid arthritis research and development. In addition, PanaTecs will offer services for biomarker identification using Bruker Daltonics' mass spectrometry equipment.

Gerhard Mueller, director of the Cooperative Center for Rheumatology, University of Goettingen, said in a statement that the center will contribute its "clinical expertise and access to a large number of clinically well characterized patient samples."

Further details of the agreement were not disclosed.


Agilent Buys Back 83M Shares in Dutch Auction

Agilent Technologies said this week that it had accepted for payment an aggregate of 83,077,043 shares at a purchase price of $36 per share in its modified Dutch auction tender offer.

The repurchased shares represent 16 percent of the firm's outstanding shares and are part of its previously announced plan to repurchase nearly $4.5 billion of its shares. Upon completion of the tender offer, Agilent will have repurchased roughly $3.3 billion worth of its shares.

Agilent said that it drew down $700 million from its $1 billion senior secured term facility to finance the share repurchase. Merrill Lynch Capital acted as administrative agent.


454, Broad Institute in Research Collaboration

454 Life Sciences said last week that it has entered into a research collaboration with the Broad Institute based on its Genome Sequencer 20 system.

According to 454, the Broad Institute will use the system to identify genomic mutations associated with various diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

"We hope this collaboration will lead not only to new insights into disease genomics, but also to the development of additional exciting applications for this promising technology," Chad Nusbaum, co-director of the Genome Sequencing and Analysis program at the Broad Institute, said in a statement.

Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed, but 454 said that the Broad Institute is the company's first customer for the commercially available version of the Genome Sequencer 20 system.

The company originally installed its system at the Broad in March.


Integrated DNA Technologies Acquires Oligo Supplier GenBase

Integrated DNA Technologies has acquired custom oligonucleotide supplier GenBase for an undisclosed amount, the company said last week.

With the acquisition, the company will establish an IDT West Coast Operations division, the company said. The division will give IDT an immediate, local, next-day oligo production capability in the region, the heart of California's biotech industry.

The West Coast Operations' new San Diego production facility will use IDT's own in-house nucleic acid synthesis technologies and processes to serve customers and will begin oligonucleotide production in late December.

Dan Dernbach, general manager and eight-year veteran at IDT, will head West Coast Operations, the company said. GenBase's founder and CEO Jun Wang will remain as vice-president of international sales, with a focus on the Pacific Rim.


Helicos Sequences M13 Bacteriophage

Helicos BioSciences said this week that it has sequenced the genome of the M13 bacteriophage with its non-amplified True Single Molecule Sequencing technology.

The tSMS technology was used in conjunction with Helicos' SimplePrep genome preparation technique. Sequencing of M13 was conducted on the entire genome, including homopolymeric sequences. The M13 genome is 6,400 base pairs long and encodes for 10 genes.

Helicos said that tSMS, which enables direct interrogation of a single molecule without amplication, offers a number of benefits, including no PCR bias, fewer errors, and no dephasing issues. The company said that the method costs around 1,000 times less than Sanger sequencing.

Helicos is one of several startups developing alternative sequencing technologies aimed at driving down the cost of sequencing a genome to as little as $1,000. Along with firms such as 454, Beckman Coulter's Agencourt unit, and Solexa, among others, Helicos is targeting a sequencing market that has been dominated by much larger firms, such as Applied Biosystems and GE Healthcare.


NOTE: This is the last issue of
BioCommerce Week
to be published
in 2005. We will resume our normal
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The Scan

Driving Malaria-Carrying Mosquitoes Down

Researchers from the UK and Italy have tested a gene drive for mosquitoes to limit the spread of malaria, NPR reports.

Office Space to Lab Space

The New York Times writes that some empty office spaces are transforming into lab spaces.

Prion Pause to Investigate

Science reports that a moratorium on prion research has been imposed at French public research institutions.

Genome Research Papers on Gut Microbe Antibiotic Response, Single-Cell RNA-Seq Clues to Metabolism, More

In Genome Research this week: gut microbial response to antibiotic treatment, approach to gauge metabolic features from single-cell RNA sequencing, and more.