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Invitrogen Q4 Completes Turnaround; Co. Settles with Agilent on Patent Litigation
 
Invitrogen reported a profit of $41.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2007, completing a turnaround from a difficult 2006.
 
This week, the company said revenues for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2007 reached $336.4 million, up 11.6 percent from the year-ago figure of $301.6 million, with currency having a favorable impact of 5 percent. Profits for the quarter rose to $41.1 million, compared to a loss of $100.2 million a year ago.
 
“What a difference a year makes,” Greg Lucier, chairman and CEO of Invitrogen said during a conference call accompanying release of the company’s earnings. “When I addressed the investment community at this time last year, we had come off a difficult year, filled with integration challenges and execution issues. It was clear we had to make significant improvements quickly.
 
“Over the last year, we have accomplished a lot, meeting and exceeding many of our own internal goals. We are a company that is now completely aligned, and we enter 2008 focused on the things that matter most,” he said.
 
Since the end of 2006 through 2007, the company has spent much of its energy integrating past acquisitions into its fold; rolling out a new enterprise resource planning system ; instituting a new sales commission and benefits structure; and making personnel changes, all in an effort to return Invitrogen to the black.
 
The result: For full-year 2007, Invitrogen recorded a profit of $143.2 million, compared to a loss of $191 million in 2006. Revenues during the past year increased to $1.3 billion from $1.2 billion, an 11.3 percent hike.
 
The company is also in the midst of an effort to drive up its Web-based business, and during the fourth quarter, online orders reached a record high of 58 percent in the Americas, the company said, and more than 45 percent globally.
 
Moving forward, Invitrogen will continue pursuing that strategy “to do more market development [and less] chasing orders and handholding customers,” Lucier said.
“Even if we just maintain current headcount, that headcount can be deployed toward really opening up new channels and new opportunities for us,” Lucier said.
 
During the fourth quarter, revenue grew by 19 percent in Europe, 14 percent in Asia Pacific, and 7 percent in the Americas.
 
The BioDiscovery segment, which contains its proteomics reagents and consumables, saw its revenues grow 13.5 percent during the quarter to $239 million from $210.6 million a year ago. For full-year 2007, BioDiscovery revenues grew 10.7 percent to $902.2 million from $814.7 million a year ago.
 
Invitrogen spent $24.6 million on R&D during the fourth quarter and $115.8 million for full-year 2007. The company reported $671.3 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 31.
 
Full-year 2008 revenues are expected to grow in the mid-single digits and net income to increase in the low-double digits, company officials said. 
 
This week, Invitrogen also said that it has settled with Agilent Technologies over pending patent litigation. The litigation involved Invitrogen and Stratagene, which Agilent acquired last year.
 
Invitrogen had sued Stratagene in 2000 for infringement of three patents related to the use and sale of RNase H minus reverse transcriptase products and in 2001 for infringement of a patent covering a process for making E. coli cells that are more effective at absorbing foreign DNA.
 
In 2006, the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division awarded Invitrogen $16.2 million plus fees and costs on the E. coli lawsuit. Stratagene appealed the decision.
 
In 2001 Stratagene sued Invitrogen for infringing a patent related to the use and sale of certain DNA polymerase blend products.
 
Under the terms of the settlement, Agilent will pay Invitrogen an undisclosed amount, and discontinue sales of its RNase H minus RT products. Invitrogen will obtain a license form Agilent for sale of its DNA polymerase blend products and pay Agilent an undisclosed royalty. All litigation will be dismissed.
 

 
Agilent Sues AMT for IP Infringement
 
Agilent Technologies last week said it is suing Advanced Materials Technology, alleging three former Agilent employees, now at AMT, breached confidentiality agreements, misappropriated Agilent trade secrets, and breached fiduciary duties with respect to Agilent’s HPLC intellectual property.
 
Agilent claims that AMT used its trade secrets and confidential information in developing its Halo HPLC columns.
 
In a statement, Mike McMullen, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Chemical Analysis Solutions unit, said, “Agilent is built on a long-standing foundation of integrity and high ethical standards by our employees in both their external and internal interactions. This is an unfortunate but reasonable and necessary action to vigorously protect our intellectual property.”
 
In response, AMT told ProteoMonitor’s sister publication, GenomeWeb Daily News that the lawsuit “lacks merits and [AMT] intends to vigorously defend itself against the allegations contained in Agilent’s recently-filed lawsuit."
 
In its statement, AMT added that the lawsuit is intended to “slow or stop market penetration of the Halo brand products.”
 

 
GE Buying Whatman for $717M
 
GE Healthcare and Whatman said this week they have reached an agreement for GE’s purchase of Whatman for £363 million [$717 millon].
 
Under the terms of the agreement, GE will pay 270 pence in cash for each share of Whatman stock. The deal is subject to approval by Whatman shareholders.
 
In a statement, Joe Hogan, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, said that Whatman’s products are “highly complementary with our Life Sciences business.” Included in GE Healthcare’s technology portfolio are products for cellular and protein science research.
 
Peter Ehrenheim, president and CEO of the GE Healthcare Life Sciences business, said that Whatman’s expertise in filtration technologies and sample preparation “brings new technologies that are fundamental to helping researchers increase their understanding of the role of genes and proteins in disease.”
 
The deal is anticipated to be completed in the second quarter.
 

 
Cell Signaling Technologies, Bristol-Myers Squibb Continue Collaboration
 
Cell Signaling Technologies and Bristol-Myers Squibb said this week they have extended a research agreement under which CST’s PhosphoScan technology will be used in the cell and tumor phosphoprofiling of a BMS small-molecule kinase inhibitor.
 
The project builds on an evaluation project completed in March 2007 and will involve in vivo profiling of kinase inhibitor response profiles in xenograft tumor models.
 
Signatures generated by the PhosphoScan technology with the BMS compound will be analyzed within the context of CST’s PhosphoSignature database covering hundreds of cancer cell lines and human tumors. PhosphoScan profiling involves immunoaffinity purification and tandem mass spectrometry.
 
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
 

 
Vermillion, Johns Hopkins Continue Deal to Study Cancer Biomarkers
 
Vermillion said this week it and Johns Hopkins University have renewed a collaboration for the development of biomarkers for ovarian, breast, and prostate cancer.
 
Under the agreement, Vermillion will provide financial support, technical assistance, and access to its technology platforms. The university will provide cancer serum samples, and clinical and scientific knowledge. Vermillion will have “access to exclusive commercial rights” to discoveries made through the partnership, it said in a statement.
 
Vermillion, formerly called Ciphergen, has been working with Daniel Chan, director for the Center for Biomarker Discovery at Johns Hopkins, for seven years.
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
 

 
Calibrant, Yale Collaborate on Cancer Drug Targets
 
Calibrant Biosystems will identify protein drug targets for ovarian and breast cancer under a collaboration with the Yale University School of Medicine announced this week.
 
Using its proteomics platform, Calibrant will identify proteins and protein networks as well as select novel therapeutic targets found to be central to disease progression in ovarian and breast cancer.
 
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
 

 
Althea Helping Quintessence Develop Cancer Drug
 
Althea Technologies will provide Quintessence Biosciences protein production, purification, and aseptic filling services for the development of Quintessence’s drug candidate QBI-139 under a deal announced this week.
 
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
 
ABI-139 is effective in cancer models against a broad range of solid tumors, the companies said in a statement. Quintessence plans to file an investigational new drug application with the FDA for the drug during the first quarter.
 

 
GSK Extends GeneGo License
 
GlaxoSmithKline researchers will have global access to GeneGo’s MetaCore, MapEditor, and MetaBase products under a licensing extension announced this week.
 
The agreement applies to GSK researchers in bioinformatics, R&D, and clinical studies. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.