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Industry Briefs: Dec 11, 2008

Life Technologies Closing ABI Offices in Connecticut
Life Technologies, the recently merged combination of Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems, this week confirmed to ProteoMonitor’s sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News that it will close ABI’s corporate offices in Norwalk, Conn., as part of its efforts to eliminate redundant operations.
The firm will shutter the facility in July 2009, and corporate functions at that site will be transitioned to other locations until then, a Life Technologies spokesperson said. The firm did not disclose how many positions would be eliminated as part of the closure, but several local media outlets in Connecticut reported that around 100 jobs will be lost as a result. Life Technologies also has not disclosed how many jobs would be transferred to other offices.
In advance of the completion of the merger, Invitrogen said in October that it expects $80 million in synergies, mostly from cost savings, in the first year after closing the deal. Part of those synergies was expected to come from corporate overhead reductions, “which unfortunately does include the elimination of redundant positions between the two companies,” the spokesperson said in an e-mail.

MDS Lowers FY 2008 Revenue Guidance
MDS said this week it expects to report fiscal year 2008 revenue of $1.21 billion to $1.22 billion, down about 2 percent from a previous guidance range of $1.23 billion to $1.25 billion.
The change is due primarily to foreign exchange fluctuations and “soft demand” in some segments of MDS’ North American customer base, the company said in a statement.
MDS also said that it will incur a non-cash after-tax charge of about $260 million to write off the net book value of its MAPLE nuclear reactor project asset. The project included an agreement in 2006 that called for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., to bring the MAPLE reactors into service commencing October 2008 and provide MDS with a 40-year supply of isotopes.
However, earlier this year, AECL and the Canadian government decided to scrap the project. MDS has since filed for arbitration against AECL and has filed a $1.6 billion court claim against AECL and the government of Canada.
“We continue to believe we have a strong case against AECL and the Government of Canada relating to the MAPLE agreement,” MDS President and CEO Stephen DeFalco said in a statement this week.
The company also will take a non-cash write-down of MDS Pharma Services goodwill of between $270 million to $370 million as a result of the decline in overall contract research organization stock market valuations, current economic certainty, and the delay in profit recovery.
The non-cash charges will result in certain debt covenants restricting the company from repurchasing shares for the foreseeable future, MDS said.
The company will announce its fourth-quarter earnings results on Dec. 17.

Bayer Healthcare, Protagen Team up for Heart Ailment Biomarkers
Bayer Healthcare will evaluate Protagen’s UNIarray technology under a collaboration announced last week.
Bayer will evaluate the technology for the discovery of biomarkers for atrial fibrillation, which some patients develop after surgery. No tests currently exists that can predict which patients may be at risk for developing the condition. Bayer is currently conducting a clinical study of the condition and will be evaluating the UNIarray for the discovery of biomarkers that can predictively diagnose the ailment and stratify patients who have it, the companies said in a statement.
Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Pressure, Omni Reach Co-Marketing, Development Deal
Pressure BioSciences and Omni International said this week they have entered into a marketing, distribution, and technology co-development agreement.
Under the terms of the deal, the two firms will share market data, customer leades, technology assessments and competitive information. They will co-promote some products at industry trade show beginning in 2009, and PBI will license its PCT Shredder to Omni for sale. They will also co-develop instruments and consumables combining Omni’s homogenization capabilities with PBI’s extraction technologies.
Omni will begin selling the PCT Shredder in early 2009. The instrument extracts proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and small molecules from difficult-to-disrupt samples such as muscle, skin, plant cell walls, and insects with “minimal damage to fragile molecules,” Karl Jahn, president of Omni, said.
PBI is seeking to raise additional financing through equity financing [See PM 12/04/08], and Jahn said Omni will participate in the financing.
Omni, headquartered in Marietta, Ga., manufactures laboratory homogenizers and utrasonic cell disrupters

AliX, SOSHO Collaborate on Protein Structure Agreement
AliX and SOSHO announced this week an agreement to supply biopharmaceutical companies with protein-structure determination for difficult targets.
Under the agreement, French firm AliX will provide SOSHO with its protein engineering expertise, while SOSHO, based in Japan, will apply its crystallization technology.
SOSHO is using its femtosecond laser irradiation of protein solution to induce crystal nucleation and to promote crystal growth, it said in a statement.
The two firms have started a research collaboration to determine “intractable targets relevant to therapeutic research,” they said.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.