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Caprion Signs Biomarker ID Deal with Boehringer Ingelheim

Caprion Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has entered into a research collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim to identify metabolic and inflammatory disease biomarkers using Caprion's CellCarta proteomics discovery platform.

Under the terms of the agreement, Caprion will identify pharmacodynamic markers in plasma resulting from the administration of pre-clinical pharmaceutical compounds, Caprion said.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.


Agilent to Use Caliper LabChips for Clinical Diagnostic Apps

Caliper Life Sciences has granted Agilent Technologies a non-exclusive license to use a "majority" of Caliper's microfluidics patent estate to develop clinical diagnostic applications on several Agilent instrument platforms, the companies said this week.

Specifically, Agilent will incorporate the LabChip microfluidics technology into its 2100 Bioanalyzer, 5100 Automated Lab-on-a-Chip, and future instrument platforms.

Separately, the companies said that Agilent will use Caliper as its exclusive supplier of planar LabChip products for the 2100 Bioanalyzer and future products for the next five years.

Under the terms of the agreement, Agilent will pay an upfront undisclosed licensing fee to Caliper, as well as royalties on future sales of diagnostic LabChip products. Additional financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


NIH Awards $18M in High-End Instrumentation Grants for Biomedical Research

The National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health announced today that it has awarded 11 grants worth nearly $18 million to US research institutions to support the acquisition of "high-end instrumentation" for biomedical research.

The one-time grants support the purchase of instruments that cost more than $750,000, with a maximum of $2 million each, NCRR said. In addition, institutions were to identify three or more NIH-funded investigators whose research requires use of the instrument.

Instruments to be purchased using the grants include structural and functional imaging systems, macromolecular NMR spectrometers, high-resolution mass spectrometers, electron microscopes, and supercomputers. The awards include:

  • $2 million to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for the purchase of a high-performance computing cluster to "improve and expand the computing infrastructure to support current and new research" using microarrays and comparative bioinformatics;
  • $758,000 to the University of California, San Diego, for the purchase of a MALDI TOF-TOF mass spectrometer;
  • $919,000 to the University of Cincinnati for the acquisition of an ion trap-Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance hybrid mass spectrometer;
  • $1 million to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, for the purchase of a Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometer.

The full list of award recipients, instruments and associated projects can be seen here.


Assay Designs Acquires Stressgen Bioreagents

Assay Designs said today that it has acquired Stressgen Bioreagents for an undisclosed amount.

Assay Designs will take on Stressgen's employees, bringing the company's total number of workers to 85, Russell Hart, Assay Designs' co-founder and president said in a statement.

Based in Victoria, British Columbia, Stressgen markets develops and markets antibodies, proteins, and related kits to life sciences researchers. Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Assay Designs develops and manufactures immunoassay kits, luminescent reagents, antibodies, and proteins for the life sciences market.


Power3, Biosite to Develop Protein Biomarker-based Diagnostics

Proteomic tool shop Power3 Medical Products will give Biosite access to certain of its protein biomarker antibody targets and intellectual property as part of an alliance to evaluate and develop diagnostic tests, the companies said this week.

Terms of the agreement call for Biosite to develop and commercialize all potential immunodiagnostic tests based on the Power3 biomarker antibody targets it licensed from the company.

Power3's IP portfolio includes pending patents, provisional patent applications, and research and license agreements with medical research institutions in the areas of cancer, drug resistance, neurodegenerative disease, and metabolic syndrome, the company said.

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


PerkinElmer 'Shifts Resources,' Lays Off Staffers, and Incurs $9M in Charges

PerkinElmer has laid off an undisclosed number of employees as it "shifts resources into geographic regions and product lines that are more consistent with [its] growth strategy," the company disclosed in a recent filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the July 8 SEC filing, the termination plan will result in a pre-tax restructuring charge of around $9 million for its fiscal second quarter, which ended July 3.

PerkinElmer also disclosed in the filing that "a soft sublease market" will require it to increase its reserves for financial obligations under several leases associated with previous restructurings in 2001 and 2002, and that it will therefore incur an additional pre-tax restructuring charge of around $6 million.

Approximately $9 million of the $15 million total restructuring charge is expected to be paid over the next 12 months, and the remaining $6 million is expected to be paid before 2014, PerkinElmer said.

The company also said that it is "nearing resolution of audits of certain prior year tax returns," which should result in a tax benefit of at least $15 million in its second fiscal quarter.


Investment Bank Upgrades Thermo Stock, Expects 'Strong' Second Half of '05

An investment bank this week upgraded shares of Thermo Electron stock, saying the company is positioned well for potentially positive financial results in the second half of the year.

J.P. Morgan upgraded shares of Thermo Electron to "overweight" from "neutral" "citing improving macro trends in the life science and industrial markets and potentially positive second-quarter results," according to a Marketwatch report.

The company "also appears poised for a strong second-half 2005 and 2006, with a solid pipeline of new products and recent acquisitions for the process control and equipment maker," the report quoted a J.P. Morgan analysts as saying.


Sigma-Aldrich Restructures Business Units After Six-Month Market Study

Sigma-Aldrich will restructure its two life science and research businesses in an attempt to tap into its customer base more efficiently, the company said this week.

The organization will divide Sigma's existing scientific research and biotechnology businesses into three "customer-centric" units. Each unit will be overseen by a president, reporting to the company's president and chief operating officer.

The firm's SAFC business will not be affected, the company said.

Sigma said it took the steps, which take effect immediately, after a six-month market study. Sigma president and COO Jai Nagarkatti said the reorganization "should enable us to ... deliver 10 percent top and bottom line growth long-term."

The new business units will be:

  • Essentials, which represents 20 percent of the company's current sales, will offer "account management to largely economic buyers" in pharmaceutical, academic, and other commercial research organizations. Gilles Cottier, vice president of sales at Sigma, will head the unit.
  • Specialties, which represents 35 percent of the company's current sales, will sell Sigma's products through its web site and catalogs to lab scientists. David Julien, most recently president of Sigma's biotechnology business, will run this business.
  • Biotech, which represents 20 percent of the company's current sales, will sell certain research tools for life scientists. This group will be headed by Shaf Yousaf, most recently vice president of corporate R&D and biotech marketing.

SAFC, represents 25 percent of Sigma's sales after the recent acquisition of JRH Biosciences, will sell fine chemical products and services. This unit "stands separate" from the other three. SAFC will continue to be led by Frank Wicks, who has served as the unit's president since January 2003.

Sigma said it plans to continue reporting sales results for the three existing scientific research, biotechnology, and SAFC units through 2005 and begin reporting under the new four-unit structure in 2006.

Additional details were not disclosed.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.