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Nina Fedoroff, David Harvey, Lee McCollum, Jai Nagarkatti, Avi Nash, William O Neil, Pedro Reinhard, Timothy Sear, Dean Spatz, Barrett Toan, Daniel O Day, Remco van Soest, Bio-Rad, Qiagen and more


Sigma-Aldrich re-elected several directors at its annual shareholders meeting last week: Nina Fedoroff, David Harvey, Lee McCollum, Jai Nagarkatti, Avi Nash, William O'Neil, Pedro Reinhard, Timothy Sear, Dean Spatz, and Barrett Toan.

Daniel O'Day has replaced Heiner Dreismann as head of Roche Molecular Diagnostics, Roche said last week. O'Day most recently served as head of operations for Roche Pharmaceuticals in Denmark.

As head of Roche Molecular Diagnostics, O'Day will be responsible for all global functions including research, development, manufacturing, and marketing, as well as site operations in Pleasanton and Alameda, Calif.; Branchburg and Belleville, NJ; and Penzberg, Germany.

O'Day holds a BS in biology from Georgetown University and an MBA from Columbia University.

Remco van Soest has joined Eksigent Technologies as product manager of the company's NanoLC HPLC systems. In this role, he will lead development of tools for proteomics and biomarker discovery, and will be responsible for marketing the company's NanoLC-1D Plus and NanoLC-2D proteomics systems.

Most recently, van Soest was technical manager at Dionex. Prior to that, he was research scientist at LC Packings. He holds an MS in analytical chemistry from Vrije Universiteit in the Netherlands.

BioCommerce Briefs

Bio-Rad Mulling Acquisition Targets; Q1 Revenue Rises 3 Percent

Bio-Rad Laboratories is evaluating acquisition targets in the $20 million to $50 million range, President and CEO Norman Scwartz said during the firm's first-quarter conference call last week.

"We actually have some interesting prospects" in both the life sciences and diagnostics markets, he said. Schwartz was responding to questions about the recent flurry of M&A activity in the industry and Bio-Rad's response.

"It is a pretty competitive environment," said Schwartz. "There are a number of them that we have bid on and have not been successful. I can see that right at the moment we have a number of very interesting things that are in our hopper that we're working on, and hopefully one or more them will come to pass."

Bio-Rad last week reported first-quarter revenue of $308.3 million, a 3-percent increase over revenue of $299.2 million for the first quarter last year. On a currency-neutral basis, the firm's revenue rose 8.3 percent year over year.

Sales for its life science segment were up .5 percent, and 5.6 percent on a currency-neutral basis, to $144.8 million. According to the company, revenues rose on increased sales of amplification reagents and instrumentation, automated electrophoresis, and process chromatography products.

Bio-Rad's MJ Research unit resumed sales of its thermal cycler products during the quarter, following a settlement with Roche Molecular Diagnostics and Applera (see BioCommerce Week 2/15/2006). The firm resumed selling the thermal cyclers with roughly six weeks left in the first quarter, according to Brad Crutchfield, Bio-Rad's vice president for life sciences.

Sales for the company's clinical diagnostics segment rose 5.5 percent, or 10.9 percent excluding currency effects, to $160.3 million. The company credited the increase to growth in the blood typing, blood-virus screening, autoimmune testing, and diabetes monitoring product lines.

Bio-Rad's net income dropped 6.9 percent year over year to $31.2 million, or $1.19 per basic share, from $33.5 million, or $1.29 per share. Last year's Q1 results include $4 million, or $.15 per share in income from discontinued operations.

R&D spending climbed 4.9 percent to $28.1 million year over year.

As of March 31, Bio-Rad had cash and cash equivalents of $265.6 million.

Qiagen to Acquire Gentra Systems for $38M

Qiagen has agreed to acquire Minneapolis-based Gentra Systems in a $38 million transaction that the companies expect to close at the end of the second quarter.

Qiagen will purchase all outstanding shares of privately held Gentra, which produces nucleic acid purification products for large-scale blood samples, for approximately $38 million in cash, and it expects to incur one-time charges of about $0.02 in EPS at the close of the transaction, the companies said.

Depending on the timing of the transaction, Qiagen estimates that Gentra's assets will contribute about $6 million to sales in the second half of 2006.

Qiagen said that Gentra's products will strengthen its position with customers involved in biobanking, molecular diagnostics, and translational medicine.

The biobanking and archiving market "is increasingly attractive due to current trends in molecular diagnostics, biomedical research and translational medicine," Peer Schatz, Qiagen CEO, said in a statement. "The Gentra products are very complementary to Qiagen's product and technology portfolio providing additional solutions to enable large-scale research in biomedical, genomic and molecular diagnostic laboratories."

Harvard Bioscience Posts 7.7-Percent Revenue Rise for Q1

Harvard Bioscience last week reported a 7.7-percent increase in first-quarter revenues, with organic revenue growth of 11.9 percent.

Revenues for the three months ended March 31 inched up to $17.4 million from $16.1 million in the comparable period of 2005. Excluding the impact of foreign exchange rate changes, however, revenue grew 11.9 percent compared to the same period in 2005, the company said.

The increase in revenues was "across various product lines, and was primarily attributed to an increase in demand for our pre-clinical testing products," Harvard Bio said in a statement.

Net income more than doubled to $540,000 from $202,000 in the first quarter of 2005.

Harvard Bioscience spent $751,000 on R&D in the first quarter, down slightly from $870,000 in the comparable period of 2005.

As of March 31, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $9.8 million, and an additional $2.1 million in discontinued operations.

Fisher Shares Downgraded by Investment Bank

An investment bank downgraded shares of Fisher Scientific following the company's planned $10.6 billion reverse merger with Thermo Electron, announced last week (see article).

Investment bank JP Morgan cut Fisher's stock to 'neutral' from 'overweight.'

"Our rating change reflects ... a belief that Fisher Scientific shares will now trade within a narrow range, tied closely to the performance of Thermo Electron, for the remainder of the year," a broker from JP Morgan said in a statement.

The Scan

Study Finds Few FDA Post-Market Regulatory Actions Backed by Research, Public Assessments

A Yale University-led team examines in The BMJ safety signals from the US FDA Adverse Event Reporting System and whether they led to regulatory action.

Duke University Team Develops Programmable RNA Tool for Cell Editing

Researchers have developed an RNA-based editing tool that can target specific cells, as they describe in Nature.

Novel Gene Editing Approach for Treating Cystic Fibrosis

Researchers in Science Advances report on their development of a non-nuclease-based gene editing approach they hope to apply to treat cystic fibrosis.

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.