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Predicant, Epitome, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Thermo Electron

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Amid 'Organizational Change,' Predicant to Auction $6M Worth of Equipment

Predicant Biosciences will auction $6 million worth of "bioscience" and information technology equipment, said the firm arranging the sale.

The auction, to be held Jan. 10, is being managed by Cowan Alexander and Asset Reliance International.

According to Don Cowan, president of the auction firm, "general lab and analytical instruments" such as spectrometers, detectors, coolers, microscope cameras, storage systems, machining centers, and vacuum pumps will be sold.

As reported by ProteoMonitor in October, Predicant took on $7.5 million in debt to develop and market protein biomarker technology for diagnostic tests.

Buyers can inspect items and place bids at the auction house or over the Internet during the webcast. The auction will begin 11 a.m. PST.

Predicant did not respond to calls seeking comment, but a recorded message indicated an "organizational change" was underway.


Epitome to Develop Custom Assays for Bristol-Myers Squibb

Epitome Biosystems said this week that it has signed a technology access and product development agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb to use its EpiTag protein-measurement platform.

Under the agreement, Epitome will design custom antibody arrays to measure proteins specified by Bristol-Myers Squibb to accelerate its clinical development programs. In return, Epitome will receive development funding and license fees from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The EpiTag technology uses an in silico approach to identify peptide tags for any protein based on sequence information, Epitome said. The company said the platform enabled the development of multiplex protein assays.

Financial details were not discussed.


Investment Bank Downgrades Thermo Electron Despite 2006 7-Percent Growth Guidance

An investment bank downgraded its outlook for Thermo Electron despite the revenue growth expected by the company in 2006.

Needham & Co cut Thermo Electron's shares to "Buy" from "Strong Buy."

Thermo Electron issued its financial guidance for 2006 on Dec. 22, 2005, expecting 16 percent growth in earnings and 7 percent on revenues.

Annual revenue for 2006 is expected to grow 7 percent, to between $2.78 billion and $2.83 billion, compared with the company's 2005 estimate of $2.61 billion to $2.63 billion.

The Waltham, Mass.-based company expects 2006 earnings per share of $1.75 to $1.80 before subtracting $.10 for stock option expensing during the year.

Marjin Dekkers, president and CEO, said the company expects "accelerated expansion" of its operating margins and that it will improve "well above 100 basis points for the year."

The guidance does not reflect any acquisitions or divestures the company may complete in 2006, but it does reflect the favorable impact from acquisitions completed in 2005 and expected organic growth of 4 percent to 5 percent, Thermo Electron said.

The company also affirmed its expected 2005 adjusted earnings guidance of $1.51 to $1.54 per share.

According to Reuters Estimates, the company's guidance misses Wall Street's sales expectations of $2.89 billion.

In separate news, investment bank Leerink Swann & Company initiated coverage of Thermo Electron with an "Outperform" rating today.

Senior biotechnology analyst John Sullivan cited Thermo Electron's global reach, new products, strong management, and execution as reasons for the rating.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.