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Thermo Fisher, AbD, Ciphergen, Sigma-Aldrich, Bruker BioSciences, Wake Forest, NCSU, Xencor, Boehringer Igelheim, Eksigent, Axel Semrau, Ben Gurion University, Rosetta Biosoftware, HistoRx

Thermo Fisher Still Eyeing Potential LC Purchases, Reaches Agreement With AbD for Fluorescent Reagents
Despite recent acquisitions in its liquid chromatography business, Thermo Fisher Scientific remains on the lookout for more opportunities to expand its LC operations, Thermo CEO and President Marijn Dekkers told analysts in New York last week.
During the past two months, Thermo added Cohesive Technologies, an LC product company, and Swiss Analytic Group, which has an LC business, into its fold. But reiterating earlier comments about the company’s goal to fatten its LC holdings, Dekkers told analysts at the Merrill Lynch Global Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, and Medical Device conference that the company is not done shopping.
“We have, obviously, a position in HPLC, though it’s stand-alone HPLC and HPLC linked to mass spectrometry, and we are looking for opportunities to strengthen our technology base in HPLC with small bolt-on technology acquisitions like we did in those two cases…”
In response to a question about the competitive landscape, Dekkers said that in addition to competing to improve instrument technology, Thermo now must offer integrated workflow systems to its customers to stay ahead of rivals.
“People aren’t just going to say, ‘I buy a mass spec, I buy an HPLC, I buy a robotic system, I buy software, I buy the consumable.’ It’s very hard for scientists to put all these pieces together and make an optimum workflow out of it,” Dekkers said.
Separately, Thermo said this week it has reached an agreement to use its DyLight dyes with AbD Serotec’s research antibodies to prepare a series of fluorescent reagents. The resulting products will be made available through AbD, a division of Munich, Germany-based MorphoSys.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
DyLight dyes are water soluble and “provide high fluorescence intensity in many applications while maintaining excellent photostability across a broad range of pH values,” the companies said in a statement. AbD offers more than 10,000 antibodies and immunology reagents.

Ciphergen Begins Clinical Trials for Its First Dx in Development
Ciphergen initiated a prospective clinical tral for its ovarian cancer diagnostic test, it said this week.
The test, Ciphergen’s lead diagnostic test in development, will be evaluated on whether it can better differentiate women with the disease from those with benign pelvic masses than physical and radiological exams, the current standards of care.
Ciphergen plans to enroll 700 to 1,000 patients at about 20 clinical trial sites, it said in a statement, and then submit results to the US Food and Drug Administration for clearance as an in vitro test. In December, Ciphergen enlisted the help of contract research organization PrecisionMed to support clinical trials of the test in the US [See PM 12/21/06].
The company has performed preclinical trials of the test in Europe and has contracted with the Emergo Group for support in getting regulatory approval there. Ciphergen has said it hopes to get clearance from at least one European country this year.

13 Percent Increase in Sales at Sigma-Aldrich
Sigma-Aldrich this week reported sales rose 13.2 percent in the fourth quarter, bumping up profits 25 percent.
For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2006, the company posted sales of $464.5 million, up from $410.5 million during the year-ago period. Net income for the quarter came in at $71.6 million, compared to $57.3 million during the fourth quarter of 2005.
For full-year 2006, Sigma-Aldrich said sales rose to $1.8 billion, a 7.9 percent increase from $1.7 billion in 2005. Profits for the full year rose 7.2 percent to $276.8 million from $258.3 million in 2005.
The company spent $13.3 million on R&D during the quarter and had $173.8 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 31, 2006.

Public Offering Nets Bruker $16.9M
Bruker BioSciences this week said it gained $16.9 million in proceeds from a public offering of its common stock.
The company said it sold 2.53 million of its shares at $7.10 per share. An additional 9.4 million shares were sold by four shareholder members of the Laukien family. Frank Laukien, CEO and president of Bruker, was not one of the selling shareholders. Bruker did not realize any of the net proceeds from the sale of stock by these shareholders.
Bruker said it plans to use the proceeds for corporate purposes, including potential acquisitions and debt repayment.
Bruker said 1.6 million shares of this offering were sold after the underwriters exercised an over-allotment option.
Bear, Stearns & Co. and UBS Investment Bank are serving as joint bookrunning managers for the offering.

NC Biotech Center Gives Wake Forest, NCSU Funding for Mass Specs
Two awards were given by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center as part of a total of $1.9 million in grants to four universities to promote biotechnology research and teaching collaborations.
Michael Thomas at Wake Forest was awarded $250,000 to replace or upgrade a tandem mass spectrometer. David Charles Muddiman at North Carolina State University was awarded $187,500 to purchase an electrospray ionization TOF-MS.
The center gave out a total of 13 Institutional Development Grants which must be matched at least $.25 to the dollar by other funding sources.

Boehringer Using Xencor Technology to Pump Up Drug Candidates
Xencor and Boehringer Igelheim said this week they are collaborating on optimizing therapeutic monoclonal antibodies with improved clinical performance.
Boehringer will use Xencor’s proprietary ScAb technology platform to “maximize” the efficacy of Boehringer’s antibody drug candidates against selected disease targets, the companies said in a statement.
Under the terms of the deal, Xencor will receive an upfront payment and be eligible for additional licensing fees, milestones, and royalty payments for products commercialized by Boehringer using Xencor’s technology. Other financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Eksigent, Axel Semrau Reach Distribution Agreement
Eksigent said this week it has reached a distribution agreement with Axel Semrau for Esksigent’s NanoLC and ExpressLC HPLC products in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Benelux.
Axel Semrau supplies instruments, systems, and other products to researchers in drug discovery, quality control, and general laboratory applications, the companies said in a statement. The Eksigent agreement will be handled by Axel Semrau’s Bioanalytical/Liquid Chromatography Business Division.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Ben Gurion University Researchers Using Rosetta Software
Rosetta Biosoftware said this week the National Institute of Biotechnology in Negev at Ben Gurioun University of the Negev will be using the company’s Elucidator system for LC/MS protein expression analysis and the Resolver system for gene expression data analysis.
Eitan Rubin will head a team at the university using the platforms for a pilot study aimed at establishing a National Test Bed to allow researchers throughout Israel to evaluate software and technology for biotech research, Rosetta and the university said in a statement.
The systems will also be used by researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science to study how plants respond to stress.

HistoRx’s PM-2000 Installed at UCLA School of Medicine
HistoRx said this week the University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine has installed the PM-2000 image analysis instrument in the Biomarker Innovation Laboratory.
David Seligson, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and associate director of the BIL, will direct a research program using the system to develop clinically relevant in situ diagnostic assays.

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.