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Mike Sjaastad, Jan Hughes, Christian Cabou, Stephen Scherer, Millipore, Serologicals, Fitch, Beckman Coulter, CST, Bio-Rad, Fisher, Dharmacon, Invitrogen, and more


Mike Sjaastad, director of marketing, imaging for Molecular Devices has left the company to take a position at Stanford University. Jan Hughes, vice president of worldwide marketing, has taken over Sjaastad's responsibilities until a replacement is named.

Illumina appointed Christian Cabou as senior vice president and general counsel, the company said last week.

Most recently, Cabou spent five years as general counsel of GE Global Research. Earlier, he was senior counsel of global intellectual property of GE Medical Systems. He also spent nearly seven years with the firm of Foley & Lardner, where he was a partner.

Cabou received his JD from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. He received a master of engineering management from Northwestern and a MSEE degree from the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers in Paris, and a BS from the Lycee Technique d'Etat in Armentieres, France.

Stephen Scherer has joined CombiMatrix Molecular Diagnostics' science advisory board.

Scherer is a senior scientist in genetics and genomic biology at The Hospital for Sick Children in Canada and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. He is also director of the Center for Applied Genomics and associate chief of research at the hospital.

CombiMatrix Molecular Diagnostics is wholly owned by CombiMatrix.


BioCommerce Briefs

Millipore to Sell $550M in Notes to Help Fund Serologicals Acquisition

Millipore plans to raise $550 million in convertible senior notes to finance its acquisition of Serologicals, the company said this week.

The notes, due 2026, will be offered to institutional buyers.

In April, Millipore said it would acquire Serologicals for $1.4 billion in cash. Millipore said it will use a portion of these funds to pay for a portion of the acquisition.

Initial purchasers will receive a 13-day option to buy up to an additional $82.5 million of the convertible notes. Holders would receive a cash payment up to the principal amount of the note and Millipore common stock equivalent to the note's conversion value in excess of the principal amount for each note.

Any remaining funds will be added to the company's working capital and will be used for "general corporate purposes," the company said.

Fitch Downgrades Beckman Coulter on Cash, Credit Concerns

Fitch Ratings revised Beckman Coulter's rating outlook to "negative" from "stable" this week, citing concerns about the company's cash-flow generation and credit profile.

The company's change in leasing policy, with customer contractual terms shifting to operating-type leases, will require a significant cash outlay for capitalizing customer equipment, the agency said. Stress on the company's credit profile would be "exacerbated" if the company continues its "shareholder-friendly" actions, Fitch said.

CST, Bio-Rad to Develop Phosphoprotein Assays

Cell Signaling Technology has partnered with Bio-Rad Laboratories to develop phosphoprotein assays to be commercialized with Bio-Rad's bead-based assays, CST announced this week.

Under the partnership, CST will develop antibodies for kinase activation and protein phosphorylation assays to be used in Bio-Rad's multiplex bead-based assays for the Bio-Plex suspension array system.

CST will develop a broader array of antibodies for the Bio-Plex platform. Bio-Rad's phosphoprotein assays are optimized to simultaneously assess kinase and signaling protein activation states and provide critical tools for disease research and drug development.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Fisher's Dharmacon Unit, Amaxa in siRNA Alliance

Fisher Biosciences' Dharmacon unit and German biotech Amaxa will "co-promote" data generated using Dharmacon's siRNA libraries with Amaxa's Nucleofector technology, the companies said this week.

Dharmacon will work with Amaxa to provide combined customers with "technical service, pre-tested protocols, and application models to optimize the use of [Dharmacon's] siRNA reagents with the Amaxa technology," William Marshall, vice president of technology and business development for Fisher Biosciences, said in a statement.

Amaxa's Nucleofector 96-well Shuttle system is designed to allow parallel delivery of siRNA reagents into difficult-to-transfect cell lines.

Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Invitrogen Expands Production Capabilities for Animal-Origin Free Media

Invitrogen said last week that it had expanded its production capabilities for animal-origin free Advanced Granulation Technology media at its Grand Island, NY, campus.

According to Invitrogen, the renovated facility, which cost more than $9 million to transform, was under construction for the past year and has been validated for production. The firm said pharmaceutical and biotech customers have already begun to receive material manufactured at the facility.

Harvard Bio to Cut Staff at Genomic Solutions' UK Operations

Harvard Bioscience plans to eliminate certain activities at the Huntingdon, UK facility of its Genomic Solutions subsidiary, according to an 8-K filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the filing, Harvard Bioscience said that it had undertaken a plan to reorganize, consolidate, and eliminate certain activities at the facility. Part of the reorganization includes relocating some activities to the firm's Holliston, Mass., facilities.

According to the firm, "this will result in the elimination of a number of employee positions."

The firm expects to take second-quarter charges of $600,000 to $800,000 related to severance and benefits and charges of $100,000 to $300,000 related to lease terminations.

Genomic Solutions is part of Harvard Bio's capital equipment business, which the firm announced last summer would be divested (see BioCommerce Week 8/4/2005). At the time, Harvard Bio said it expected to complete the divestiture or sale within one year.

According to the most recent filing, Harvard Bio is continuing its efforts to divest the capital equipment business. The firm said it would terminate the reorganization plan if it sells the business "prior to our completion of all activities under this plan."

Ambion Spin-Off Asuragen Raises $49M in Series A Funding

Ambion spin-off Asuragen has raised $49 million in a Series A private-equity financing round, the company said this week.

It will use the cash to help pay for operating expenses and to license its cancer diagnostic and therapeutic programs.

Telegraph Hill Partners led the round, which included Growth Capital Partners and other firms that invested in Ambion, the company said.

Asuragen was formed after Applied Biosystems acquired Ambion's RNA business earlier this year (see BioCommerce Week 1/4/2006). It comprises Ambion's former diagnostics and services division as well as a discovery group.

Sequenom Implements Reverse Stock Split; Secures $33M in Private Funding

Sequenom last week implemented a planned 1-for-3 reverse stock split in an effort to regain compliance with the Nasdaq exchange.

Under the split, each three outstanding shares of common stock are automatically combined and converted into one share. Since fractional shares will not be issued, cash payments will be made for those shares.

Earlier in the week, Sequenom's shareholders had approved the split, as well as an increase in the firm's authorized common shares to 185 million.

The reverse split is part of the company's plan to regain compliance with Nasdaq National Market listing requirements. Two weeks ago, Sequenom received a letter saying it was not in compliance. Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel will decide whether to grant the company's request to continue being listed.

For the next 20 days, the company's Nasdaq ticker symbol will be SQNMD. The ticker symbol will return to the regular SQNM after this period.

Separately, Sequenom said this week that it has secured $33 million in a private stock placement with four institutional investors. As part of the placement, Sequenom sold or issued around 20 million shares of common stock and warrants to purchase an additional 12 million shares.

The investors were Pequot Private Equity Fund, ComVest Investment Partners, LB I Group, and Siemens Venture Capital. Oppenheimer & Co. served as the placement agent.

Sequenom said it will use the cash for general working capital purposes, to "strengthen and expand" its core product sales and services business, and pursue opportunities in the field of non-invasive prenatal diagnostics.

The Scan

Boosters Chasing Variants

The New York Times reports that an FDA advisory panel is to weigh updated booster vaccines for COVID-19.

Not Yet

The World Health Organization says monkeypox is not yet a global emergency, the Washington Post reports.

More Proposed for Federal Research

Science reports that US House of Representatives panels are seeking to increase federal research funding.

PLOS Papers on Breast Cancer Metastasis, Left-Sided Cardiac Defects, SARS-CoV-2 Monitoring

In PLOS this week: link between breast cancer metastasis and CLIC4, sequencing analysis of left-sided cardiac defects, and more.