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Michael Cavanaugh, George Bers, Agilent, Invitrogen, Hutchinson Cancer Center, ABI, PerkinElmer, Eppendorf, MDS Sciex

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Michael Cavanaugh has joined Laureate Pharma as vice president of sales, marketing, and business development, the Princeton, NJ-based company said last week. He used to be vice president of marketing and sales support for North America with Amersham/GE Healthcare, where he was responsible for products that included instruments and reagents for genomics, proteomics, screening, cellular analysis, and preclinical imaging. Prior to that, he was senior director of business development Europe at Gene Logic. Cavanaugh holds a master's degree in clinical microbiology with a minor in biochemistry from Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia and a BS in biology with a minor in chemistry from Fairfield University in Connecticut.


George Bers has become executive vice president of commercial operations at Genospectra, a new position, the Fremont, Calif.-based company said last week. In the past, he held various senior executive management positions at NuGen, Beckman Coulter, Nanogen, and Bio-Rad Laboratories. Bers has an MS in biochemistry from Georgetown University and a BA from Duke University.

BioCommerce Briefs

Agilent Completes Redemption of Convertible Debentures,
Launches ChIP-on-Chip Platform

Agilent said this week that it had completed the optional redemption of all of its 3 percent senior convertible debentures due to 2021 with an aggregate principal amount of approximately $1.15 billion.

The redemption plan was announced last month as part of the firm's restructuring, which includes the sale of its semiconductor business for $2.66 billion, plans to divest its stake in the Lumileds lighting venture, the spin off of its system-on-a-chip and memory test businesses, and 1,300 job cuts (see BioCommerce Week 8/18/2005).

Agilent also announced this week that it had launched its ChIP-on-Chip microarray platform for analyzing in parallel how transcription factors and other regulatory proteins interact with the genomes of living cells. Agilent acquired the platform's chromatin immunoprecipitation technology through its January purchase of Computational Biology Corp.

The capabilities acquired in the Computation Biology transaction can fuel a market that will grow to $100 million by 2007, Fran DiNuzzo, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Integrated Biology Solutions business unit, estimated at the time (see BioCommerce Week 1/6/2005).

Microarray market leader Affymetrix, in collaboration with NimbleGen Systems, manufactures a similar technology available to collaborators in the NIH ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) project.


Invitrogen Inks Cancer Biomarker Deal with Hutchinson Cancer Center

Invitrogen will use its ProtoArray protein microarrays to develop diagnostic and screening tools for cancer under a collaboration with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the partners announced this week.

Invitrogen said that it would apply its protein and antibody collections to the collaboration with researchers in the lab of Sam Hanash. The firm would have rights under the multi-year program to license technologies that result from the collaboration. Further terms of the alliance were not disclosed.

This is Invitrogen's second partnership within the past year aimed at discovering cancer biomarkers. The first, signed in December 2004, is with the Mayo Clinic. Under that collaboration, Invitrogen is providing financial and research support for multiple biomarker discovery programs at Mayo, and will have an option to license and develop resulting technology on an exclusive and non-exclusive basis (see BioCommerce Week 12/9/2004).


ABI to Sell LEAP's Sample Handlers, Infometrix Software

Applied Biosystems will sell a robotic sample handler system made by LEAP and chemometrics software developed by Infometrix with ABI's/MDS Sciex LC/MS products, the companies said this week.

LEAP' sample handling technology, called PAL, is manufactured by CTC Analytics, based in Switzerland.

Infometrix's software, called Pirouette, is used by metabolomics researchers, the company said. Terms of the agreement call for Infometrix to retain "responsibility for customer training and technical support" of the software.

Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed.


PerkinElmer, Eppendorf in Microarray Co-Marketing Pact

PerkinElmer and Germany's Eppendorf will co-market each other's microarray technology under an alliance announced this week.

The firms said they will jointly promote the use of Eppendorf's DualChip content arrays with PerkinElmer's ScanArray GX microarray analysis system. The firms made the announcement at the Chips to Hits conference currently being held in Boston.

Terms of the partnership were not disclosed.


MDS Sciex Revenues Drop 5 Percent in Q3

MDS last week reported a 5-percent drop in third-quarter revenue from its analytical instruments business, MDS Sciex.

Analytical instruments, which are part of MDS' life sciences businesses, recorded $74 million for the quarter, down from $78 million for the same quarter a year ago. This drop was due mainly to currency effects and weaker sales of ICP/MS mass spec-based products.

The company said it achieved "strong performance" from its QTRAP mass spectrometers for biomarker and small molecule analysis. Also, its 4,800 MALDI TOF/TOF mass spectrometer "has been well received by our proteomics and biomarker customers," according to the company.

In addition, MDS said it wrote off $8 million of $10 million in license fees this quarter that the company paid for proteomics technology from Protana, formerly MDS Proteomics. "Based on our realigned operational plan for MDS Pharma Services, we have decided to use a different technology, and we do not expect to recover our investment in this license," according to a company statement.


Roche, Promega Settle 13-year-Old PCR Litigation

Roche and Promega have settled their legal battle over PCR-related technologies in the United States, Europe and Australia, Roche said this week.

"All PCR-related litigation resolved to the satisfaction of both parties," the Swiss drug giant said in a statement posted on its web site.

The specific terms of the parties' agreement are confidential, but Roche said that the amount of the settlement is covered by existing litigation provisions in the Roche financial statements.

Randall Dimond, vice president and chief technical officer at Promega, said the company is "very pleased" with the setlement. He added that Promgea will continue to provide the same poroducts and serviuces it has before Roche's suit was launched.

The settlement puts to rest a legal row that began in 1992 when Roche sued Promega in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, for allegedly violating a license agreement and contributing to infringement of Roche's patents for PCR and Taq enzymes.

According to the court documents, Promega had a license to one patent for the Taq enzyme, which allowed the company to sell Taq reagents for other than PCR applications. Promega had obtained the license to this patent, No. 4,889,818, from Cetus, the original holder of the patents to the Taq enzyme and PCR.

In December 1991, Roche acquired all of Cetus' Taq patents. Roche brought suit against Promega the following year, alleging that Promega's sale of "PCR optimized kits" to researchers violated the license agreement to the '818 patent and contributed to infringement on Roche's patents.

In defending against this claim, Promega argued that the '818 patent was obtained through "inequitable conduct," and was therefore unenforceable, the court documents show. In December 1999, the California US District Court ruled that the patent was unenforceable, holding that the applicants to the '818 patent did commit inequitable conduct based on eight misrepresentations and omissions of information about Taq. (This ruling rendered Roche's claims for infringement or breach of the licensing agreement to the patent moot.) Roche then appealed the District Court's decision on the unenforceability of this patent to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

In March 2003, the Appeals Court issued a ruling that ensured the litigation would continue: While it found the applicants to the '818 patent had committed some of the inequitable conduct, it overturned the lower court's finding as to some of the other inequitable conduct, and returned the case to the California District court for a further determination as to whether the patent is unenforceable based on these findings.

In July, Roche was denied a rehearing by a full panel of the appeal's court's judges, returning the case to the lower court, leaving in limbo the issue about the enforceability of the '818 patent-as well as Roche's underlying claim against Promega.

The Scan

Looking for Omicron

NPR reports that SARS-CoV-2 testing in the US has gotten better but also that some experts say more needs to be done to better track the Omicron variant.

Holmes Alleges Abuse

The Associated Press reports that Theranos' Elizabeth Holmes has testified at her wire fraud trial that her business and romantic partner abused her.

Bit More Diverse, But More to Do

While Black and Hispanic patients are more likely to participate in cancer clinical trials than previously, they are still underrepresented, according to US News & World Report.

PNAS Papers on Yeast Gene Silencing, Zika Virus Inhibition, Immunoglobulin Hypermutation

In PNAS this week: gene silencing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, possible neuroprotective role for SHFL in a mouse model of Zika virus infection, and more.