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Industry Briefs: Mar 25, 2002


Jury Rules Against Micromass in Triple Quad Patent Dispute with ABI/MDS Sciex

 Following a federal jury’s decision against Micromass in its patent dispute with Applied Biosystems and MDS Sciex over triple quadrupole mass spectrometry technology, Micromass has decided to postpone the launch of the Quattro Ultima Pt, its top-of-the-line triple quadrupole instrument, the company said last week.

On March 15, the Federal District Court of Wilmington, Del., ruled that several of Micromass’ Quattro-brand instruments, including its MassTransit version introduced a year ago, infringe on US Patent No. 4,963,736, held by a joint venture between ABI and MDS Sciex. Although the judge in the case has yet to rule in the matter, the jury set damages at $47.5 million, to cover the loss of revenue to ABI and MDS Sciex.

The ruling — at least temporarily — swings the competition in the hotly contested market for triple quad instruments in favor of ABI and MDS Sciex. Over the last two quarters, sales of Micromass triple quadrupoles grew by less than one percent, compared to sales growth of over 55 percent over the last two quarters for ABI/MDS Sciex triple quadrupole instruments, according to analysts.

The judge is expected to rule on the matter within the next few weeks. If the judge agrees with the jury’s recommendation that Micromass be found in infringement, Micromass will appeal, according to a spokesperson for the company. Micromass’ older triple quadrupole instrument, the Quattro Micro, would not be affected by the ruling, the spokesperson said.


Large Scale Biology Considers “Strategic Biotechnology Initiative”

 Large Scale Biology has a new project on its hands — one closely tied in with the current preoccupation with bioterrorism, LSB Chief Scientist Norman Anderson told ProteoMonitor. The proteomics arm of the Vacaville, Calif.-based company has begun investigating whether it can apply its proteomics technology to identifying previously unknown human pathogens, in the hopes of developing a vaccine before weapons developers can produce and deploy the pathogen.

LSB has yet to prove that the project is technically feasible, but the prospect “has us totally preoccupied at the moment,” Anderson said. “Rather astonishingly, we now believe, but must prove, that it is technically feasible to physically isolate a previously unknown human pathogen, characterize and sequence it, and produce viral subunit proteins in quantity for a subunit vaccine in as little as six weeks,” he said.

Anderson said LSB’s investigations could result in an anti-bioterrorism program — a Strategic Biotechnology Initiative — analogous to the Department of Defense’s Strategic Defense Initiative for defending against nuclear weapons.


ABI Places TOF/TOF in Academic Laboratories, Bruker Offers TOF/TOF “Starter Kit”

 At the Pittcon meeting in New Orleans last week ProteoMonitor learned that Applied Biosystems has installed its 4700 Proteomics Analyzer MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometer at the University of Georgia, Vanderbilt University, Northeastern University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of North Carolina. ABI is also planning to ship instruments to NIH and an additional academic research institution in the US. The instrument sells for $650,000, or $750,000 “with all bells and whistles,” according to an ABI salesperson.

Meanwhile, representatives from Bruker Daltonics told ProteoMonitor that users who don’t wish to initially invest in its TOF/TOF instrument can purchase a “starter kit” TOF for $350,000, with the option of upgrading to TOF/TOF capability for an additional fee of about $200,000. Last summer, Bruker advertised its TOF/TOF instrument at a price of $575,000.


GeneProt Partners With Lion on Bioinformatics, Receives $7.5M Equity Investment

 GeneProt and Lion Bioscience said March 14 that they will market an “integrated offering” that brings together GeneProt’s proteomics bioinformatics technology with Lion’s software tools.

Terms of the three-year collaboration call for GeneProt to license Lion’s SRS and DiscoveryCenter software together with its piSCOUT and pathSCOUT programs. The North Brunswick, NJ-based company will also spend as much as $4.95 million on “related” but undisclosed services from Lion, it said.

In return, Lion, of Heidelberg, Germany, will add GeneProt’s proteomics technology to its in-house drug-discovery efforts. Lion will sweeten the deal by making a $7.5 million equity investment in GeneProt.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

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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.