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Caprion Pharmaceutical, Ecopia BioSciences, ABI, National Cancer Institute, HUPO PSI, MDS Sciex, Lumera, Sigma-Aldrich, Thermo Fisher, ProteoGenix, Protalix BioTherapeutics

Caprion + Ecopia - Proteomics = Thallion
Caprion Pharmaceutical and Ecopia BioSciences completed their merger this week forming Thallion Pharmaceuticals. As part of the merger, Caprion transferred the properties and assets relating to its proteomics business to a general partnership indirectly wholly owned by Caprion. That business, called Caprion Proteomics, will be sold within a year, Thallion officials said.
The company also said it has raised CA $45 million [US $38 million] in gross proceeds through the private placement of 180 million units of Thallion at $.25 per unit. Each unit comprises of one common share of Thallion’s stock and one-half share purchase warrant.
Under the terms of the merger announced in January, [See PM 01/11/07], Caprion’s proteomics business is to be divested within 12 months of the completion of the merger. The spinout, Caprion Proteomics, will continue doing business while the company continues shopping for a buyer, Thallion officials told ProteoMonitor this week.
Thallion will concentrate on discovering and developing oncology and infectious disease therapies.
This week, the Superior Court of Quebec approved the merger, following approval by shareholders of both Caprion and Ecopia. Caprion had been a privately held company while Ecopia stock was traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Last spring Caprion said it intended to go public, but less than three months later, the company retreated from its planned initial public offering [See PM 08/03/06].
Thallion’s CEO is Lloyd Segal, formerly president and CEO of Caprion. Pierre Falardeau will be its COO. He had been Ecopia’s president and CEO. Michael Singer, Caprion’s CFO, has the same post at the new company, and Anne-Marie Guertin, formerly vice president of finance for Ecopia, assumed that post at Thallion.
Martin LeBlanc is president of the general partnership overseeing Caprion Proteomics. He will report to Thallion’s board.
Thallion shares began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange under ticker symbol TLN this week.

ABIOpensCenter in China
Applied Biosystems this week opened a 5,400-square-foot facility in Shanghai. The Asia Pacific Application Support Center houses five demonstration laboratories and features ABI’s full portfolio of products including its full suite of proteomics instruments.
According to a statement from ABI, “The center is expected to help drive China’s life sciences industry by providing a facility where researchers will have access to one of the region’s most comprehensive displays of life science tools under one roof.”
ABI and other companies have cited Asia Pacific and particularly China as a high-growth area for their businesses.
In addition to proteomics, other key application research areas to be carried out at the Shanghai center include pharmaceutical and biotech research, environmental and food safety testing, and forensic analysis. The center’s main functions include sample analysis, instrument and workflow demonstrations, training programs, region-specific applications development, and customer support.

Research Grants Alert!
The National Cancer Institute last week announced new funding for the development of new tools and technologies for the detection, isolation, and characterization of low-abundance proteins, peptides, and miRNAs.
In an announcement, the agency said that while improvements in technologies have improved the isolation, quantification, and characterization of “the major components of biological mixtures…the low abundance components are often lost in the process and/or are not analyzed.” The agency further said that numerous studies indicate that “low abundance components of complex mixtures can provide important information about the status of a cell.”
To address this issue, the NCI is setting aside $1.4 million for fiscal 2007-2008 to fund five to 10 grants.
Information about the grant is available here. To apply for a grant, go here.
The National Institutes of Health also announced last week a new grant program for investigators who propose “highly innovative research projects that could have an exceptionally great impact on biomedical or behavioral science.”
The program awards up to $1.5 million in direct costs over five years. The application period starts on April 25 and ends May 22. NIH said it expects to award at least 14 awards in September.
More information about the award is available here. Instructions to apply are available here.

HUPO PSI Seeking Comments on Manuscripts
The Human Proteome Organization’s Proteomics Standards Initiative said this week that seven manuscripts covering various data standards are available for public comment. HUPO PSI generated four of the manuscripts and participated in generating three others.
The manuscripts can be viewed here. Comments should be sent to [email protected].
The organization also said the following manuscripts are available for public comment: “GelML: Gel Markup Language Specification” here; “Guidelines for the development of Controlled Vocabularies” here; the MIAPE column chromatography document here; and the “FuGE: Functional Genomics Experiment model specification here.

Revs up 2 Percent for MDS Sciex
MDS Sciex reported a 2 percent growth in revenues for its fiscal first quarter. For the three months ended Jan. 31, the company, part of MDS, said revenues rose to $62 million, compared to $61 million from the year-ago period. The company spent $4 million on R&D, unchanged from a year ago. MDS did not break out earnings for the Sciex division.
In January, MDS announced it had made a $615 million bid for Molecular Devices. If approved, Molecular Devices would be combined with MDS Sciex to form a new business unit with more than 1,100 employees.
MDS said this week that the expiration date for the cash tender offer for outstanding shares of Molecular Devices by MDS’ wholly owned subsidiary, Monument Acquisition, has been extended to March 19 in order to meet certain foreign regulatory conditions necessary to complete the transaction. The company said it still expects the acquisition to be completed “within the next several weeks.”

Lumera Revenues Rise Nearly Five-fold, but Losses Expand
Lumera said last week revenues for the fourth quarter more than quadrupled to $1.16 million from $240,000 during the year-ago period.
Revenues for the quarter came from a government contract the company had with the US Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and sales of products sold through Lumera’s Electro-Optics division.
For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2006, losses rose to $3.13 million, up 19.5 percent from $2.62 million a year ago. During the quarter, the company spent $2.11 million on R&D.
For full-year 2006, Lumera posted a loss of $12.1 million on revenues of $3.36 million, compared to a loss of $10.4 million on $1.51 million in revenues in full-year 2005.
The company spent $6.73 million in R&D for full-year 2006 and reported it had $10.5 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 31, 2006.

Sigma-Aldrich Establishes $200M European Credit Facility
Sigma-Aldrich said this week it has established a $200 million multi-currency revolving credit facility in Europe. The facility, which matures on March 13, 2014, will be used for general purposes, including acquisitions by Sigma-Aldrich’s European operations, the company said in a statement.
Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, and The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ served as co-lead arrangers and joint bookrunners for the seven-bank syndicate involved in the facility. Wells Fargo and National Association acted as the administrative agents.

Thermo Fisher Helping Labs in Europe Manage Their Assets
Thermo Fisher Scientific said this week it has expanded its asset management services capabilities in Europe.
In addition to a new management team, new services are being launched to help customers in the pharmaceutical, chemical, petrochemical, and biotechnology sectors optimize the management of their laboratory assets.
“By establishing a full presence in Europe, existing and new customers will benefit from local support and solutions tailored to their individual needs,” Thermo Fisher said in a statement.
The European Asset Management Services, based in the UK will focus on companies there, in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia.

Funding Drive for $20M at ProteoGenix
ProteoGenix has initiated a $20 million Series B financing, said the co-leaders in the funding drive, New Leaf Venture Partners and TPG Growth, this week. Burrill & Co., is also participating in the financing.
ProteoGenix, based in Portland, Ore., develops diagnostic tests for maternal-fetal health using high-throughput protein analytical and genomic techniques. This week, it was granted patent number 7,191,068 by the US Patent and Trademark Office for a method of identifying proteomes in biological fluids to determine maternal-fetal health.

Protalix Trading on AMEX
The American Stock Exchange began listing Protalix BioTherapeutics under ticker symbol PLX this week. The company, headquartered in Karmiel, Israel, develops and produces recombinant therapeutic proteins through a proprietary plant cell system.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.