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Beckman Coulter, ALS Association, Celltech, Discovery Partners, Minnesota Partnership, HUPO PSI, Thermo Electron, NIH, Large Scale Biology, Caprion Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Laboratories, GeneProt


Beckman Coulter Revenues and Income Rise in Q4

Beckman Coulter reported increased revenues and income for the fourth quarter of 2003.

The company had increased revenues of $638.6 million, up from $595.5 million during the same period last year. Sales in the Biomedical Research sector accounted for $200.4 million of this amount, compared with $2.1 million the previous year.

R&D spending during the quarter grew to $54.9 million, from $45.7 million last year.

Net income increased to $70.4 million, or $1.14 per share, from $33.5 million, or $.54 per share, a year ago. Part of this increase is due to a $23 million litigation settlement that Beckman received from Flextronics International.

As of Dec. 31, 2003, Beckman had cash and cash equivalents of $74.6 million.

ALS Association Funds Biomarker Study

The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association announced this week that it will fund a one-year collaborative project to look for biomarkers and therapeutic targets for ALS using Ciphergen’s ProteinChip platform. The project will involve investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and North Carolina-based Metabalon, and is subject to renewal after the presentation of initial data.

Researchers will analyze blood and cerebrospinal fluid to look for protein and metabolite patterns indicative of the ALS disease state, using samples obtained from the Massachusetts and Pittsburgh hospitals.

Celltech and Discovery Partners Hook Up to Look for Leads

Discovery Partners International announced this week that it is collaborating with Celltech to look for new lead compounds for one of Celltech’s targets that is involved with signal transduction. Discovery Partners will use it compound collection and process and data management platform to look for the leads.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Minnesota Group Wins Award to Combine Proteomics with MRI in Alzheimer’s Study

The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics announced this week the awarding of its first four research grants, totaling $3 million, for applying various genomic and proteomic techniques to study cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity. The partnership involves the Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and the Minnesota state government.

One of the award recipient groups, led by Joseph Poduslo of the Mayo Clinic and Michael Garwood of the University of Minnesota, will seek to develop an Alzheimer’s diagnostic by using proteomic techniques to develop a tagged probe that would stick to the amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. The probe would then appear in MRI scans. The scientists hope to later develop a therapeutic based on this process as well.

HUPO PSI Publishes Molecular Interaction Format in Nature Biotech

A group of scientists representing HUPO’s Proteomics Standards Initiative this week published their first protein interaction format suggestions in Nature Biotechnology. The suggested XML programming language-based model, called PSI-MI XML, was developed with the support of major protein interaction data providers such as BIND and MINT, and was presented last October at the HUPO Congress held in Montreal (see PM 10-24-03).

Thermo Reports Decreased Income Amidst Slight Revenue Increases in Q4

Thermo Electron this week reported increased revenues but smaller earnings for the fourth quarter of 2003.

Thermo’s fourth-quarter revenues increased to $583.4 million from $568.7 million a year ago. Its Life and Laboratory Sciences segment, which includes mass spectrometers for proteomics, had $377 million in revenues, up from $333 million in 2002.

R&D expenses decreased slightly, to $37 million, from $38.2 million during the same period last year.

The company’s net income decreased to $61.9 million, or $.37 per share, compared to $87.2 million, or $.51 per share, for the year-ago period. Thermo attributed most of this decrease to discontinued operations and the sale of securities.

As of Dec. 31, Thermo had cash and cash equivalents of $303.9 million.

NIH FY2005 Spending to Increase Slightly; Emphasis on Mad Cow Studies

The NIH will have around 2.6 percent more money to spend in fiscal year 2005 than it had in FY2004 if the US Congress approves President Bush’s budget, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The NIH can expect its operating budget for FY2005, which begins Oct. 1, to increase to $28.6 billion from $27.9 billion in FY2004. The increase is slightly below the overall increase in the FY2005 federal budget, which tipped the scales at $2.4 trillion — a 3.5-percent jump from fiscal 2004, the OMB said.

The budget also plans to set aside an additional $8.3 million to help the FDA and the US Department of Agriculture “enhance enforcement” of federal regulations guarding against the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

This increase, which is 40 percent more than the FDA or USDA spent on similar work in fiscal 2004, also includes programs for identifying and tracking BSE in cattle. Some proteomics companies are trying to develop diagnostics to identify cattle who have the disorder or humans who have a related disorder, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (see PM 1-9-04).

Read the complete budget proposal here.

LSBC Reports Continued Revenue Drops in Q4

Large Scale Biology this week reported a 38 percent drop in fourth-quarter revenues, year over year, accompanied by a drop in R&D spending and narrowed losses.

LSBC posted revenues of $621,000 for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2003, down from $997,000 in the year- ago period.

The company’s net loss on a GAAP basis was $7.1 million, or $.28 per share, for the quarter, down slightly from $7.3 million, or $.29 per share, for the fourth quarter of 2002. A total of $2.2 million in charges was related to the closure of the company’s Germantown, Md.-based fee-for-service proteomics business. LSBC said in November that it would close down this business (see PM 11-21-03).

LSBC spent $2.8 million on R&D in the fourth quarter of 2003, down from $4.4 million in the same period last year.

As of Dec. 31, 2003, the company had $7.7 million in cash and marketable securities.

Caprion Pens Lung Cancer Target Agreement with Abbott

Caprion Pharmaceuticals and Abbott Laboratories will collaborate on lung cancer antibody drug targets, the companies said this week.

Abbott will evaluate a number of Caprion’s cell surface drug targets for non-small-cell lung cancer, and plans to add additional targets from an ongoing Caprion project. In its research, Caprion has been applying its CellCarta proteomics approach, comparing plasma membrane proteins from normal and cancer tissue samples.

Abbott will obtain exclusive worldwide rights to develop selected targets and commercialize drugs that target them.

Under the agreement, Caprion will receive an upfront payment, milestone payments, and royalties from future product sales.

GeneProt Renews Novartis Collaboration

GeneProt has renewed its research collaboration with Novartis Pharma, the company said this week.

The Geneva, Switzerland-based proteomics company will continue to analyze the protein content of biological samples and “accelerate the delivery of proteins to Novartis for further biological evaluation,” according to a company statement.

GeneProt started a four-year research collaboration with Novartis in 2000. Last year, the company licensed a protein to Novartis, after laying off almost half of it staff (see PM 4-14-03).

The Scan

Genetic Testing Approach Explores Origins of Blastocyst Aneuploidy

Investigators in AJHG distinguish between aneuploidy events related to meiotic missegregation in haploid cells and those involving post-zygotic mitotic errors and mosaicism.

Study Looks at Parent Uncertainties After Children's Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Diagnoses

A qualitative study in EJHG looks at personal, practical, scientific, and existential uncertainties in parents as their children go through SCID diagnoses, treatment, and post-treatment stages.

Antimicrobial Resistance Study Highlights Key Protein Domains

By screening diverse versions of an outer membrane porin protein in Vibrio cholerae, researchers in PLOS Genetics flagged protein domain regions influencing antimicrobial resistance.

Latent HIV Found in White Blood Cells of Individuals on Long-Term Treatments

Researchers in Nature Microbiology find HIV genetic material in monocyte white blood cells and in macrophages that differentiated from them in individuals on HIV-suppressive treatment.