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Greg Lucier, John Maraganore, Susan Siegel, Thane Kreiner, Stephen Fodor, Fisher, BioImage, Sigma-Aldrich, Bruker, Farfield Group, Thermo, Applera, ABI, Serologicals, Nanogen, Affymetrix


Invitrogen CEO Greg Lucier and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals President and Chief Executive Officer John Maraganore and have been appointed to the board of directors of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Maraganore and Lucier will serve three-year terms.

Susan Siegel has resigned as president of Affymetrix, the company announced last week.

The company also said that "effective immediately," Thane Kreiner, vice president of corporate affairs, has been named senior vice president of marketing and sales.

Affymetrix said Siegel will be "transitioning from her current role" and will represent the company as president emeritus. Affy said she will stay on as an advisor and continue to report to Chairman and CEO Stephen Fodor.

It was not immediately clear why Siegel stepped down, whether the resignation takes immediate effect, or whether Kreiner's role will overlap her duties. Also not clear is whether Affy has begun looking for a replacement. An Affymetrix spokesman said the company will "address these questions when we're ready, at the appropriate time."

Siegel joined Affymetrix in 1998 as senior vice president of sales and marketing — the same title to which Kreiner was now promoted. Affy named her president in 1999 and appointed her to the board two years later.


BioCommerce Briefs

Fisher Acquires BioImage in Bid to Grow High-Content Cell-based Assay Play

Fisher Biosciences has acquired BioImage for an undisclosed amount in an effort to expand its high-content screening and analysis reagent portfolio, the company said this week.

BioImage plays in the high-content pathway-analysis market. Its Redistribution technology monitors protein translocation within a cell.

Fisher said BioImage, based in Copenhagen, Denmark, complements its Cellomics business, which sells automated imaging instruments, BioApplication image-analysis software, high content informatics software, and HitKit HCS reagent kits.

Fisher will continue BioImage's operations in Copenhagen.

Additional details were not disclosed.

Sigma-Aldrich Creates RNAi Partnership Program; Q1 Sales Rise as Profit Dips

Sigma-Aldrich has created a worldwide "RNAi Partnership Program" with several academic institutions with the aim of distributing data collected by The RNAi Consortium library with the RNAi community, the company said this week.

The company, a member of the TRC, said it has signed on four such centers, naming only Rutgers' Bionomics Research and Technologies Core, a collaboration between the university's Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute and Department of Genetics. A company spokesperson declined to name the other three but said Sigma will disclose them in the coming weeks.

The program is "a relationship-building opportunity," the spokesperson said.

As part of the program, scientists from the participating organizations will be given access to a "broad portfolio" of intellectual property, early access to "emerging new technologies," and "special partnership pricing" on a range of Sigma-owned functional genomics and RNAi products, the company said.

Sigma will also offer participating centers early access to "new technologies" developed through the TRC alliance, and enable Sigma-Aldrich scientists to "validate current and emerging RNAi technologies," the company said.

The spokesperson said the program aims to encourage participating centers to share validation data and collaborate with the company.

Sigma also this week reported that first-quarter sales rose 10.8 percent as R&D spending grew 8.3 percent and net income shrank 10 percent. Total receipts for the three months ended March 31 increased to $443 million from $400 million year over year.

R&D spending in the period grew to $13 million from $11.7 million in the year-ago period.

Sigma's profits in the first quarter declined to $66.5 million, or $.98 per diluted share, from $74.6 million, or $1.07 per diluted share, year over year.

The firm said it had around $118.3 million in cash and equivalents as of March 31.

Bruker's Mass Spec Line Gets Medical Device Status in Russia

Russia's Ministry of Health and Social Development has approved as medical devices Bruker Daltonics' entire MALDI-TOF product line, the company said this week.

The products in the line include Bruker's microflex, autoflex TOF or TOF/TOF, and ultraflex TOF/TOF mass spectrometers, as well as of the company's ClinProRobot sample preparation platform.

The company took the step "to facilitate upcoming future regulatory approvals of novel mass-spectrometry based in vitro diagnostic assays" by its Russian customers, Bruker BioSciences said in a statement.

Also, last week investment bank UBS upgraded Bruker's shares from 'neutral' to 'buy.'

The upgrade followed Bruker's announcement last week that it would acquire affiliated company Bruker Optics for $135 million (see BioCommerce Week 4/19/2006).

Farfield Group Buys Thermo's Mirror Optical Biosensor Business

Farfield Group said last week that it has closed its acquisition of Thermo Electron's resonant mirror optical biosensor business, previously known as Affinity Sensors.

Farfield said that Thermo Electron has agreed to manufacture and supply cuvette consumables and provide continued service delivery to existing Affinity Sensor IAsys instrument customers worldwide. The supply of the resonant mirror products will be undertaken by a new subsidiary, NeoSensors, which will also supply all Farfield's consumable products, including consumables for its subsidiary Farfield Scientific.

Specific terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, and Thermo officials did not return a call seeking comment.

Applera to Issue Dividend to ABI Shareholders

Applera said this week that its board has declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.0425 per share of the company's Applied Biosystems subsidiary.

The dividend is payable on July 3 to shareholders of record as of June 1.

Serologicals Unit, Australian Center to Commercialize Stem Cell Reagents

Serologicals said last week that its Chemicon International subsidiary has signed an agreement with the Australian Stem Cell Center that will allow Chemicon exclusive rights to commercialize, market, and distribute stem cell reagents developed by ASCC worldwide.

Initial products from Chemicon will include a stem cell isolation kit, various proteins, and antibodies. ASCC will assist Chemicon in new product development in the research reagent area. In exchange, Chemicon said it will make an in-kind contribution of research tools for use by ASCC scientists, as well as contribute funds, products, and technical expertise to ASCC's recently launched stem cell training program.

Further details were not disclosed.

Nanogen to Acquire Italian Molecular Dx Firm

Nanogen last week said it will acquire the diagnostics division of Italy-based Amplimedical for €8.1 million ($10 million) in cash and stock.

Amplimedical, a wholly owned subsidiary of hearing aid manufacturer Amplifon, plays in the real-time PCR and other molecular diagnostic markets with regulatory-approved products, and Nanogen hopes to align its technologies with its MGB Alert real-time PCR systems to expand its molecular diagnostics footprint.

"Acquiring the ability to reach a broader European customer base constitutes an exciting opportunity that will further Nanogen's growth and progress toward profitability," Nanogen Chairman and CEO Howard Birndorf said in a statement.

The companies have worked together in the past to develop multiplexed reagent kits that are sold in Europe, including a CE/IVD-marked set of reagents to detect mutations in the GJB2 gene for the diagnosis of hereditary deafness and a research-use-only set of reagents to test for genetic causes of beta thalassemia.

Nanogen plans to continue to offer the current Amplimedical products in Italy and will begin exporting them to the European and Middle East markets, and will explore opportunities to use Amplimedical's expertise for the development and further commercialization of new European diagnostic products.

As a result of the deal, which is expected to close May 1, Amplimedical's diagnostics business will be merged with Nanogen's existing European operations to form Nanogen Advanced Diagnostics. This new division, which will be based in Milan and Buttigliera Alta, Italy, is expected to become "the focal point for Nanogen's operations" in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India.

Amplimedical's diagnostics division generated approximately €7 million in revenues in 2005. For the past five years, the company has distributed Nanogen's NanoChip molecular biology workstation and NanoChip 400 instrument systems in Italy.

Nanogen will pay for the assets with €2 million in cash and €6.1 million in a promissory note convertible into Nanogen common shares, Nanogen said.

Affymetrix Q1 Sales Sink 10 Percent as Profit Dwindles

Affymetrix last week said that first-quarter sales declined more than 10 percent as overall revenue fell 2.5 percent year over year amid growing R&D expenses and shrunken profits.

The results caused shares in the company to plummet 15.88 percent, or $5.38, to $28.50 in early-morning trade today, below the company's 52-week low of $29.80. The company's stock has lost more than half its value since early July last year.

Sales for the three months ended March 31 fell to $66 million from 73.6 million year over year. Product-related revenue, however, increased 16.8 percent to $13.2 million year over year and revenue from Perlegen Sciences more than doubled to $5.3 million, Affy said. Royalties and "other" revenue" increased 18.8 percent to $1.9 million year over year.

Total receipts for the period declined to $86.4 million from $88.6 million in the year-ago quarter.

R&D spending in the quarter surged 38.2 percent to $23.5 million from $17 million year over year.

Profits sank to $1.8 million, or $.03 per basic share, from $16.2 million, or $.26 per basic share, one year ago.

Affy said it had around $104.5 million in cash and equivalents and around $150 million in short-term securities as of March 31.

Pelican Life Sciences Raises $100M in VC Cash; Closes First Acquisition

Nascent reagent shop Pelican Life Sciences has raised $100 million in private equity for acquisitions and development, the company said this week.

The company also said that it has completed its first acquisition of PML Microbiologicals, which it originally announced in December.

The firm will use the cash to acquire "premier companies with proven track records of providing high-quality, differentiated products to support the pharmaceutical, biotech, and academic research markets," Pelican said in a statement.

Pelican also said that it would use the money to support product development, streamline manufacturing operations, and expand sales and marketing in its acquired entities.

Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Pelican provides products for discovery and detection, including life science reagents and consumables targeted to the microbiology and molecular biology markets.

Company officials did not return calls seeking comment.

Third Wave Q1 Revenues Rise 11.3 Percent

Third Wave this week said that first-quarter revenues increased 11.3 percent as R&D spending dipped slightly and net losses remained roughly flat.

Total receipts for the three months ended March 31 increased to $7.9 million from $7.1 million year over year. Revenue from clinical product sales grew 52 percent to $4.7 million, though revenue from research products fell 21 percent to $3 million.

License and royalty receipts fell 71 percent to $27,000, while revenue from grants increased 19 percent to $142,000.

Third Wave said R&D spending in the quarter declined 8 percent to $2.3 million from the year-ago period.

Net loss remained flat at $4.4 million, or $.11 per share, the company said.

Third Wave said it had around $35.6 million in cash, equivalents, and short-term investments as of March 31.

The Scan

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.

Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Survey participants appear to have higher genetic familiarity, knowledge, and skills compared to 2013, though 'room for improvement' remains, an AJHG paper finds.

Study Reveals Molecular, Clinical Features in Colorectal Cancer Cases Involving Multiple Primary Tumors

Researchers compare mismatch repair, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden patterns in synchronous multiple- or single primary colorectal cancers.

FarGen Phase One Sequences Exomes of Nearly 500 From Faroe Islands

The analysis in the European Journal of Human Genetics finds few rare variants and limited geographic structure among Faroese individuals.