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NIEHS, Invitrogen, Human Metabolome Technologies, Mitsubishi Pharma, Biacore, ABI, Alloy Ventures, Illumina

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NIEHS Picks Cray Supercomputer for Protein Structure Analysis

Seattle-based computer company Cray said this week that the National Institute of Environmental Health and Sciences will use a Cray XD1 supercomputer for protein structure analysis and molecular modeling.

Cray will install the new supercomputer in the first quarter of 2005 in the NIEHS research facility in Research Triangle Park, NC. The system will be under the supervision of the office of the scientific director within the NIEHS Division of Intramural Research.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


Invitrogen Posts 22-Percent Jump in Q4 Organic Revenue Growth; Income Up 42 Percent

Invitrogen last week reported a 22-percent jump in organic fourth-quarter revenue growth amid higher R&D spending and significantly stronger net income.

Total receipts for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2004, increased 26 percent to $262.2 million from $207.7 million in the year-ago quarter. The company said 4 percent of that growth was the result of favorable currency exchange rates.

Invitrogen said revenue from its BioDiscovery segment grew to $149 million in the fourth quarter, which includes 3 percent of organic growth. Around 4 percent of the increase was the result of favorable currency exchange rates, the company said. Invitrogen attributed the organic portion of the growth to “a direct result of more effective selling” as well as the release of new products.

Similarly, Invitrogen said revenue from its BioProduction business grew to $113.2 million in the fourth quarter, which includes 13 percent in organic growth. However, when factoring in favorable currency exchange rates, “continuing demand for cell culture products,” and additional revenue from BioReliance, which Invitrogen acquired last February, revenue growth in the segment increased 65 percent.

R&D spending in the period increased 25 percent to $20 million from $16 million year over year.

Net income in the quarter surged 42 percent to $30.5 million, or $.60 per basic share, from $12.6 million, or $.25 per basic share during the same period one year ago.

Invitrogen said it had around $983.4 million in cash and investments as of Dec. 31, 2004.

Looking ahead, Invitrogen reiterated a previously announced forecast to post 2005 revenue of around $1.2 billion. This would mark a 17-percent increase fro the $1 billion revenue the company posted for 2004.


Human Metabolome Technologies Signs Biomarker Deal with Mitsubishi Pharma

Human Metabolome Technologies of Yamagata, Japan, last week announced a biomarker research collaboration with Mitsubishi Pharma.

Under the terms of the agreement, HMT will search for biomarkers for the early detection of drug-induced phospholipidosis using its metabolomics tools, which include capillary-electrophoresis and mass spectrometry technology for small-molecule separation and detection.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.


Biacore’s Q4 Revenue Flat, Though Sales in US Plummet 24 Percent

Biacore of Sweden last week reported a decrease in earnings and a slight fall-off in sales for the fourth quarter of 2004.

Sales for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2004, fell to 158.6 million Swedish kronor ($22.8 million) from 160.8 million Swedish kronor a year ago. While sales in Europe increased by 18 percent, and by 15 percent in Japan, sales in the US fell by 24 percent.

R&D expenses increased slightly, to 23.4 million Swedish kronor from 21.9 million Swedish kronor during the same quarter last year.

Biacore’s net income declined to 20.6 million Swedish kronor, or 2.11 Swedish kronor per share, down from 55.4 million Swedish kronor, or 5.67 Swedish kronor per share, during the same period last year. Much of this shortfall was due to non-recurring costs of 32 million Swedish kronor related to a “turnaround program” announced last October. The company posted a net loss for the full year of 2004, and this move was designed to bring the firm back to profitability in 2005.

As of Dec. 31, 2004, Biacore had 363.9 million Swedish kronor in liquid funds.


Former ABI President Hunkapiller Surfaces at VC Shop Alloy Ventures

Former Applied Biosystems president and founder Michael Hunkapiller has landed a job as general partner at private equity firm Alloy Ventures, the company said last week.

Hunkapiller, who left ABI in August, will focus on what Alloy calls “the intersection of the firm’s interests in information technology and life sciences innovations,” and “in particular [on] technologies that will help realize the potential of large scale biology projects to fundamentally change the medical and biotechnology landscape.”

The private-equity firm said Hunkapiller will invest in companies “that take a high technology approach to addressing important unmet clinical and research needs.”

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Alloy has invested in genomics-related tool companies such as Zyomyx, Aria Biosciences, and ABI.

Before his stint at ABI, which spanned 1998-2004, Hunkapiller was a senior research fellow at the California Institute of Technology, where he worked with Leroy Hood on the early development of several technologies that ABI would go on to sell. He received his PhD in chemical biology from Caltech in 1974.

Hunkapiller is at least the second high-profile ABI or Celera alumnus to leave Applera for VC shores. Chief Business Officer Peter Barrett left Celera in January 2002 for Atlas Ventures, where he leads the company’s life science investment business.


Illumina Builds out BeadArray Platform with $17.5M Acquisition of CyVera

Illumina has signed a definitive agreement to acquire CyVera, a developer of a microbead-based biological assay platform, for $17.5 million in cash and stock, Illumina said last week.

CyVera, a privately held firm based in Wallingford, Conn., will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Illumina, and its microbead platform will become “an integral part” of Illumina’s BeadArray technology, Illumina said.

Illumina said that the acquisition will provide it with a bead-based assay platform for “low-complexity as well as high-complexity testing.”

CyVera uses holographic imprinting to add a digital address to rod-shaped beads, each of which is a potential site for a biological assay, according to the company. The beads can support both nucleic acid and protein probe content, Illumina said, adding that the technology should provide high-performance assay capability at multiplex levels between ten and 1,000 targets.

Under the terms of the acquisition, which is expected to close by the end of March, Illumina will provide approximately 1.5 million shares of its common stock and will pay approximately $2.3 million of CyVera’s liabilities. The exact number of shares will be based on the average price of Illumina’s outstanding shares before closing.

CyVera was spun out of CiDRA, a process-monitoring technology developer, in November 2003.

Illumina said that it expects the first products based on the CyVera technology to be available in the second half of 2006.

The Scan

Two J&J Doses

Johnson & Johnson says two doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provides increased protection against symptomatic COVID-19, CNN reports.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Response in Kids

The Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in a lower-dose format appears to generate an immune response among children, according to the Washington Post.

Chicken Changes to Prevent Disease

The Guardian writes that researchers are looking at gene editing chickens to help prevent future pandemics.

PNAS Papers on Siberian Dog Ancestry, Insect Reproduction, Hippocampal Neurogenesis

In PNAS this week: ancestry and admixture among Siberian dogs, hormone role in fruit fly reproduction, and more.