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James Glover, George Uveges, Applera, Affymetrix, NIH, Invitrogen, Harvard Bio, ABI, Ambion, Third Wave, J&J


Beckman Coulter this week announced that James Glover, senior vice president and CFO, will retire from the company effective June 30. Beckman has started a search for Glover's replacement, the company said.

Harvard Bioscience has appointed George Uveges to its board of directors and audit committee of the board of directors. Uveges is founder and principal of the Tallwood Group, an angel-investing firm. He previously served as president, CEO, and director of biotech firm TranXenoGen, and in 2000-2001 was COO of BioSource International, which was acquired by Invitrogen last year.


BioCommerce Briefs

Applera Withdraws Opposition to Affymetrix's European Patents

Applied Biosystems parent Applera last week withdrew its opposition to an effort by Affymetrix to enforce a patent the European Patent Office revoked in its entirety one year ago, according to an EPO database.

The patent in question, "Methods using nucleic acid hybridization patterns on a matrix of oligonucleotides" (EP0834576), was initially granted to Affymetrix on Nov. 28, 2001, and published in the European Register the following month.

The patent was revoked last year, however, after Applera, CombiMatrix, Abbott Laboratories, PamGene, and others successfully opposed it through the EPO's opposition division.

Affy appealed the EPO's decision in July 2005, after which Applera and other opponents continued to oppose Affy's rights to enforce the '576 patent.

But according to online EPO records, Applera withdrew its opposition to the '576 patent last week, and also withdrew its opposition to three other Affy patents last month.

Applera was the only party opposing "Method of forming arrays of polymers" (EP0972564), but other parties will continue to oppose "Identification of nucleic acids in samples," (EP0834575) and "Expression monitoring by hybridization to high density oligonucleotide arrays" (EP0853679), as well as the '576 patent, according to the database.

In December, ABI announced that it had licensed several of Affymetrix's microarray patents, but the companies have not disclosed the terms of the licensing agreement.

The patent attorney representing Applera in the case declined to comment.

NIH Center to Use Invitrogen Tools in Screening Program

The National Institutes of Health's Chemical Genomics Center will use Invitrogen's CellSensor cell lines and GeneBLAzer beta-lactamase reporter gene technology to identify compounds that modulate disease-relevant signaling pathways, the company said this week.

The NCGC will use the assay technology with quantitative high-throughput screening program, Invitrogen said, and all of the screening data from the collaboration will be deposited in PubChem.

As these new assays generate compounds of interest, Invitrogen and the NCGC may agree to work together to identify the protein targets they affect through the use of additional Invitrogen technologies such as Stealth RNAi and Protoarray Human Protein Microarrays, Invitrogen said.

Harvard Bio's Q4 Revenue Rises Slightly as Profit Turns to Loss

Harvard Bioscience last week reported a 2.4-percent increase in revenues and posted a loss for its fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2005.

Revenues for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2005, inched up to $17.8 million from $17.4 million in the year-ago period.

R&D expenses for the fourth quarter decreased 2 percent to $700,000 from $875,000 in Q4 2004.

Harvard Bioscience posted an $8.9-million loss in the quarter compared with a $1.1-million profit year-over-year.

The results do not include the firm's capital equipment business, which has been classified as discontinued operations for the past two quarters. Harvard Bio announced in August that it is seeking a buyer for the struggling segment, which includes the Genomics Solutions and Union Biometrica businesses (see BioCommerce Week 8/4/2005).

According to CEO Chane Graziano, Harvard Bioscience expects to generate revenue between $16.5 million and $17 million for the first quarter of 2006. For the full year 2006, the company expects revenue of between $70 million and $72 million.

As of Dec. 31, Harvard Bioscience had about $7.6 million in cash and cash equivalents.

ABI Closes Acquisition of Ambion

Applied Biosystems has closed its acquisition of the research products division of Ambion.

The $273-million cash acquisition, which the firms announced in late December, enables ABI to enter the consumables market for sample prep, RNAi, microRNA, and gene-expression and array products (see BioCommerce Week 1/4/2006).

The market in which this business plays is believed to be around $500 million and growing more than 10 percent annually, according to ABI.

The research products division has about 300 employees, and will continue to be based in Austin, Texas. It will report to ABI's molecular biology division.

According to ABI, Ambion stands to generate more than $52 million in revenue in 2005, which would be a 22-percent improvement over last year's receipts.

Third Wave Partners on Point-of-Care Device for ADRs

Third Wave Technologies, Shimadzu, and Toppan Printing plan to co-develop and commercialize a point-of-care device that aims to prevent adverse drug reactions, the companies said last week.

The PCR-based device will use Third Wave's Invader chemistry to interrogate patients' cytochrome P450 genes, Shimadzu's AmpDirect reagents for PCR on whole blood, and Toppan's consumable chip platform. It will also use PCR multiplexing technology developed by the Riken Institute and the University of Tokyo, the companies said.

The firms said they plan to sell a version of the instrument for research use only before the end of 2006.

Third Wave has exclusive marketing rights for the instrument in the United States, Canada, and Europe, while Shimadzu and Toppan, which are based in Japan, have exclusive marketing rights for the rest of the world, the companies said.

Third Wave will decide whether to file the device for clearance with the US Food and Drug Administration before selling it in the United States.

J&J Layoffs Not Expected to Affect Existing Alliances

Johnson & Johnson's decision to downsize its R&D program, disclosed last month, will not affect existing alliances, including genomic-related partnerships, the company said last week.

Company spokesperson Ernie Knewitz told BioCommerce Week sister publication GenomeWeb News last week that existing research deals were still under way, but could not comment on the future of the division's budget for such alliances.

Knewitz also said that "not many" of the 300 positions eliminated were in genomics research. "The majority of the genomics work is being done in La Jolla [California] and in Pennsylvania."

The layoffs are in the company's Raritan, NJ, office.

Laid-off employees will be able to apply for 100 new positions in the Spring House, Pa., office.

Companies GenomeWeb News spoke to who have collaborated with J&JPRD recently said they were not affected by the layoffs.

"J&J is still one of our greatest partners. We're still very gung-ho here," said Jill Fujisaki, vice president scientific alliances of Entelos, which recently expanded a hematology research collaboration with the company.

Another company, GeneGo, renewed its database license to J&JPRD two weeks ago. GeneGo said the deal was for 12 months and represents the third year of that relationship.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.