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Invitrogen, ABI, Phoenix S&T, Theranostics Health, Ray Biotech, AnaSpec, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Direvo, Bayer Healthcare

Invitrogen, ABI Announce Structure of Post-merger Firm; Lauman to Head MS
Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems this week announced the creation of the Mass Spectrometry Systems, one of four divisions that will make up the new company after the merger of the two firms.
Laura Lauman, currently the president of ABI’s proteomics and small-molecule division, will head the mass spec division in the new company, which will take on the ABI name.
The three other divisions are: Molecular Biology Systems which will combine ABI’s molecular and cell biology functional analysis division with Invitrogen’s molecular biology business. Headed by Peter Dansky, currently the head of ABI’s molecular and cell biology functional analysis division, it will house the company’s PCR, genomic assays, and molecular biology reagents business.
Genetic Systems will combine ABI’s capillary electrophoresis and SOLiD system and its applied markets business with Invitrogen’s clinical applications business and third-generation sequencing development program. Kip Miller, currently head of Invitrogen’s Biodiscovery division, will head the unit.
And Cell Systems will consist of ABI’s Poros and Tropix businesses and Invitrogen’s cellular analysis, bead-based separations, cell-culture essentials, bioproduction, and primary and stem cell systems business units. Nicolas Barthelemy, currently head of Invitrogen’s cell systems division, will head the division.
As previously announced, Greg Lucier will become the chairman and CEO of the combined firm. He holds those titles currently at Invitrogen. Mark Stevenson, currently ABI’s president and COO, will assume the same roles with the new company.
Separately, Invitrogen said this week that a $2.65 billion bank facility it has secured to help pay for its $6.7 billion purchase of ABI is expected to be completed by early next week.
The facility is fully underwritten by Bank of America, UBS, and Morgan Stanley and is “substantially over-subscribed,” the company said in a statement. “At this point, the financing process is going well and we are pleased with the number and quality of lenders who have subscribed to the syndication,” said David Hoffmeister, Invitrogen’s CFO.
The company said also that it is in discussions with the European Commission about the deal and plans to file a formal notification before the end of this month.
Invitrogen and ABI separately are holding special shareholder meetings on Oct. 16 to vote on the proposed merger. The companies expect the deal to be completed in late October or early November.

ABI Cuts 13 Mass Spec Staffers in Realignment
Thirty-two ABI employees, 13 of whom are involved in the company’s LC-MS product line, are losing their jobs, the company revealed in its annual report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last month.
An ABI spokesperson told ProteoMonitor's sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News that the cuts are part of a "rebalancing" of the company's business to place more of a focus on its business in Asia, and particularly China. He added that the global headcount for the company's mass spec business has remained the same or "possibly increased."

ABI "has not taken any action to reduce the headcount in its mass spec business," he said.

The employees were notified by May 31 and are expected to be terminated by Dec. 31, the company said in the filing. As a result of the reduction in workforce, ABI took a $4.7 million pre-tax charge in its fiscal fourth quarter, ended June 30, for severance costs. The figure includes a $700,000 charge for charges related to the ABI/MDS Analytical Technologies business, resulting from the “realignment of the Applied Biosystems group to support its strategic growth priorities and the decision at MDS to resize and refocus its development process,” ABI said in the filing.
ABI and MDS have a 50/50 joint venture agreement on mass spectrometry instruments.

Proteomics Newcomer Phoenix S&T Receives $500K in Seed Funding
Phoenix S&T, which develops devices for analysis with mass spectrometers, was one of three firms that each received $500,000 last week in seed investments from BioAdvance, the Biotechnology Greenhouse of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Phoenix S&T has developed injection-molded nanospray devices specifically for use in proteomics and clinical diagnostics. The funding will allow the company to relocate to Pennsylvania from Maryland, BioAdvance said in a statement.
BioAdvance was established in 2002 with $33.8 million from Pennsylvania’s share of tobacco settlement money and provides pre-seed and seed funding to emerging life sciences companies. It has invested almost $14 million in 24 life sciences companies and 13 academic projects.

Theranostics Health CLIA Certified
Theranostics Health said this week it has received certification under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments.
CLIA certification along with the Medical Laboratory Permit from Maryland allows the company to perform clinical diagnostic laboratory testing in immunology/protein microarray and pathology/histopathology, the company said in a statement.

Ray Biotech Using AnaSpec Fluoroscent Dyes
RayBiotech will label antibodies with AnaSpec’s HiLyte Plus and HiLyte Fluore dyes, under an agreement announced this week.
RayBiotech will integrate the labeled antibodies into protein and antibody arrays. HiLyte Plus and HiLyte Fluor are fluorescent dyes used for long wavelength biomarker labeling.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Thermo Fisher Board Approves $500M in Share Buy-back
Thermo Fisher Scientific said last week its board has authorized it to buy back $500 million of its own stock through Sept. 10, 2009.

Bayer Healthcare Buys Protein-Engineering Firm Direvo Biotech
German Bioengineering firm Direvo Biotech said this week it has been acquired by Bayer Healthcare for €210 million ($297 million) in an all-cash deal.
Direvo’s proprietary protein engineering platform uses high-throughput technologies for the rapid discovery and optimization of biopharmaceuticals, the company said in a statement. Bayer plans to intergrate Direvo’s research and development personnel into Bayer Schering Pharma’s global drug discovery organization. Direvo’s Cologne site will be integrated into Bayer Schering Pharma as well.

Direvo’s wholly owned subsidiary, Direvo Industrial Biotechnology, was not part of the transaction. That firm was sold to an unnamed group of investors for an undisclosed price.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.