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Alnylam, European Patent Office, Invitrogen, Merck, Integra, Qiagen

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Alnylam Says European Patent Office Issues
Patent On RNAi Technology Licensed by Company

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week that the European Patent Office has issued a patent on technology, to which the company holds an exclusive license, related to the therapeutic use of double-stranded RNA expressed from endogenous templates or expression vectors to mediate RNA interference.

Alnylam said that it holds the rights to the patent under an agreement with Cancer Research Technology Limited.


Invitrogen Says Supreme Court's Merck v. Integra
Ruling Excludes Research Tools …

A ruling by the US Supreme Court that will allow drug makers to use compounds patented by other firms in their research should not have a negative impact on companies developing molecular biology tools, Invitrogen said this week.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled this week that drug developers are exempt from patent infringement when using patented inventions "solely for uses reasonably related to the development and submission of information under a Federal law which regulates the manufacture, use, or sale of drugs."

Invitrogen noted in a statement, however, that the court did not include patented "research tools" in its interpretation.

The Court's decision was in favor of Germany's Merck, which had been using compounds patented by Integra LifeSciences in its cancer research. Integra sued Merck, which is not related to the US firm of the same name, for patent infringement in 1996.

But although Invitrogen submitted a brief to the court in support of Integra LifeSciences in March, the company today claimed the ruling as a victory because the Supreme Court did "not extend the statutory research use exemption to patented research tools."

In a footnote to the opinion, Invitrogen noted, the Court said that it would not express a view about "whether, or to what extent" current law "exempts from infringement the use of 'research tools' in the development of information for the regulatory process."

Alan Hammond, chief intellectual property counsel for Invitrogen, said, "In essence, while the Court found that companies may use patented inventions in research activities related to the drug compounds or targets themselves, it excluded patented research tools from its ruling. We believe, therefore, that the ruling will not have a material effect on Invitrogen's business."


... And Raises $325 Million in Convertible Notes Sale

Invitrogen said this week that it has raised $325 million in a sale of convertible notes due 2025.

The company initially planned to offer $300 million of the 3.25-percent senior convertible notes. Purchasers had an option to purchase up to an additional $50 million to cover over-allotments.

Earlier in the week, Invitrogen said the purchasers exercised the option to purchase an additional $25 million in notes. The total offering size remains $350 million.

The company said that it will use some of the net proceeds to repay around $124 million borrowed in a revolving line of credit with Bank of America, and intends to use the balance for "potential acquisitions and for general corporate purposes, including the potential repayment or redemption of other outstanding debt."


Qiagen Buys Chinese Reagent
Provider in Deal Worth up to $4 Million

Qiagen said this week it has acquired Chinese nucleic acid purification reagents provider Tianwei Times for approximately $2 million in cash plus an additional $2 million in performance-based milestones over the next two years.

Under the terms of the acquisition, which still needs to be approved by the Chinese government, Qiagen purchased certain assets of the Beijing-based company, which has approximately 50 employees.

Qiagen expects Tianwei, which focuses on providing solutions for DNA and RNA purification, to contribute $1.5 million to $2 million in reagent sales and $0.3 million in net earnings in 2006.

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.