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Mahendra Rao, David Edwards, Gary Blackburn, Andy Bertera, Bruce Dudzik, Mark Crane, Beckman Coulter, Bio-Rad, Sigma-Aldrich, Third Wave, Mitsubishi, CombiMatrix Molecular Dx, Perlegen, Sequenom


Invitrogen has hired Mahendra Rao as vice president, research, stem cells and regenerative medicine. Rao most recently served as section chief for stem cells and senior investigator in the laboratory of neuroscience for the National Institute on Aging, a division of the National Institutes of Health. (see Q&A in this week's issue for more on Invitrogen's stem cell business)

David Edwards has joined Stratagene as director of software solutions. In this role, he will manage the company's line of expression and pathways analysis software. Edwards most recently served as director of life sciences at Accelrys.

Gary Blackburn has become president and chief executive officer of Ohmx, the Evanston, Ill.-based protein biosensor company said on Monday. Most recently, he was director of research and technology at Motorola Clinical Micro Sensors.

Andy Bertera recently became vice president of global marketing at Promega. Bertera comes to Promega from GE Healthcare Discovery Systems, where he was head of gene and protein discovery global marketing.

Bruce Dudzik has been named senior director of business development at NanoInk, the company said this week.

Dudzik joins NanoInk from Affymetrix where he served at senior levels of business development. Dudzik also held positions at Amersham, now GE Healthcare, Vysis, now Abbott Labs, and Amoco's biotechnology division.

Dudzik received an MBA from DePaul University and holds a BS in biology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Mark Crane has become vice president of marketing and business development for Gene Logic's preclinical division, the company said last week. Previously, he held positions in sales and marketing at Quest Pharmaceutical Services, MDS Pharma Services, Avantec, and PerkinElmer. At GeneLogic, he will be responsible for sales and marketing of preclinical services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and to government organizations.

BioCommerce Briefs

Beckman Coulter, Canadian Researchers to Co-Develop Transplant Tests

Beckman Coulter and the Research in Immune Tolerance and Transplantation program, a $10-million initiative funded by the Canadian government and others, will jointly conduct research to develop tests for use in transplantation, the company said last week.

Under the two-year agreement, Beckman will support a postdoctoral scientist, provide funding for new reagent combinations, sponsor symposiums and workshops, and help the RITT program to secure additional funding.

In return, Beckman will receive first rights to new discoveries resulting from the collaboration. RITT will also acquire over $1 million worth of separation and analysis equipment from Beckman.

The research will be conducted at the RITT Industrial Biodevelopment Laboratory at the Toronto General Hospital in Canada.

Bio-Rad Updates KnowItAll for Launch This Month

Bio-Rad has finished integrating one of two technologies into its KnowItAll informatics platform and will launch it this month, and plans to incorporate the second technology into the informatics system for the June launch of a new version of the product, BioCommerce Week sister publication GenomeWeb News has learned.

Last month at the PittCon conference, Bio-Rad pre-launched the first product, integrated with Infometrix' Pirouette chemometrics technology, and plans to formally roll it out sometime this month, according to a company spokesperson.

Bio-Rad has not yet completed integrating the second platform, the Molecular Structure Activity Relationships molecular-modeling technology, made by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, said Kernan. The addition of that technology, which was developed by CSIRO's Division of Molecular and Health Technologies, will be completed before the June launch of an updated version of KnowItAll, said Kernan.

Sigma-Aldrich to Manufacture, Distribute Reagents for Febit's Microarray Platform

Febit Biotech has chosen Sigma-Aldrich to manufacture and distribute reagents for its Geniom microarray platform, the Heidelberg, Germany-based company said this week.

Under the exclusive agreement, begun in January, Sigma-Aldrich Chemistry, of Germany, is producing and distributing a reagent kit consisting of DNA building blocks and solutions for the synthesis of oligonucleotides on Febit's microarrays.

Febit said the companies are planning to expand the distribution deal to reagents for sample preparation.

Third Wave, Mitsubishi Form Joint Venture to Develop PGx-Based Diagnostics

Third Wave Technologies and Mitsubishi have formed a joint venture for personalized medicine in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, the companies said last week.

The joint venture, Third Wave Japan, plans to develop products for the Japanese molecular diagnostic market, including tests for diagnosing infectious diseases and products to improve drug safety and efficacy.

Third Wave will hold worldwide rights outside the Asia-Pacific region to any new technology or product developed by Third Wave Japan.

Third Wave Japan and Mitsubishi also plan to accelerate the penetration of Third Wave's Invader products in clinical laboratories in the region, especially in Japan.

Mitsubishi has a 14-percent minority investment in Third Wave Japan. In addition, CSK Holdings, through its new subsidiary CSK Institute for Sustainability, will hold a 3-percent stake in the joint venture.

CombiMatrix Molecular Dx Gets New Facility in Toronto

CombiMatrix Molecular Diagnostics has established a new facility in Toronto, the company, a subsidiary of CombiMatrix, said this week.

The new facility is located at the MaRS (Medical and Related Sciences) Discovery District, a not-for-profit corporation, in downtown Toronto, and will be led by Mansoor Mohammed, CMDX's chief scientific officer and vice president.

"Moving forward we anticipate establishing strong relationships with Canadian customers, partners, and the government," said CombiMatrix CEO Amit Kumar in a company statement.

Perlegen Files for IPO; Seeks to Raise up to $115 Million

Perlegen Sciences this week filed for an initial public offering, hoping to raise up to $115 million, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Perlegen said in the IPO filing — the first from a genomics company since the height of the Human Genome Project — that it has so far developed two drug candidates, for type II diabetes and dyslipidemia, which are in pre-phase III development. However, the company said it expects to remain in a research and development stage for the next four to five years.

Perlegen said that it has generated approximately $69 million in revenues from collaborations through Dec. 31, 2005. The company has also incurred $153.1 million in cumulative net losses since it started operating in 2001, and expects losses to continue "for the foreseeable future," according to the SEC filing.

In 2005, Perlegen had $40.5 million in total revenues. Of that, $23.3 million resulted from contract revenue, $15.8 million from research revenue, and $1.3 million from royalty revenue from Affymetrix. Perlegen's net loss in 2005 was $21.9 million.

As of Dec. 31, Perlegen had $106.8 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments. "We believe that our existing capital resources and the net proceeds from this offering will be sufficient to enable us to maintain currently planned operations throught the next two to three years," according to the SEC filing.

The company had 105 full-time employees as of March 31.

Perlegen was incorporated in 2000 as a subsidiary of Affymetrix. Pfizer made a $50 million investment in the company in December, and Maverick Capital, CSK Ventures, and Eli Lilly also have stakes in the company.

Sequenom Urges Stockholders to Approve $33M Placement, Reverse Stock Split

Sequenom's cash holdings stood at $3 million as of March 31 — putting its survival at risk if it can't raise additional cash by June, the company disclosed in a filing with the US Securities Exchange Commission this week.

In a preliminary proxy statement filed with the SEC this week outlining the agenda for the company's May 31 annual meeting, Sequenom urged stockholders to vote in favor of a private placement worth $33 million that it proposed earlier this month.

"If we were unable to secure adequate alternative funding quickly, we could be forced to wind down and cease operations or sell or merge the company at a distressed valuation," the company said in the filing.

"Without additional capital, meeting our working capital needs under a continuation of the current business model would prove difficult beyond June 2006," the filing said.

As of March 31, the company had unrestricted cash, cash equivalents, and investments of approximately $3.0 million. As of Dec. 31, 2005, it had $8.7 million in cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments, and restricted cash.

Sequenom also disclosed in the proxy statement that it has been granted an April 12 hearing with Nasdaq to appeal a delisting notice it received in March due to its noncompliance with the exchange's $1.00 minimum closing bid price requirement.

Sequenom's board of directors is also proposing a reverse split of the company's stock, according to the filing, which it expects to "increase the market price of our common stock so that we are able to regain compliance with the Nasdaq minimum bid price listing requirement."

The proposed reverse split, "when implemented at an exchange ratio between 1-for-2 and 1-for-6, will result in the market price of our common stock rising to the level necessary to satisfy the $1.00 minimum bid price requirement," the company said.

Sequenom shares closed up $.02 at $.80 on Tuesday.

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.