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Galapagos, Novartis, Takara, BD, Sirna, Qiagen, Nextal, Kreatech, Ambion


Galapagos to Design siRNA-Based Cellular
Assays for Target Validation for Novartis

Galapagos said this week that its Galadeno division has entered into an agreement with Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK to design cellular assays using its SilenceSelect gene knock-down platform.

Galadeno will provide technology, reagents, and support to help Novartis researchers validate drug targets by analyzing protein function in human primary cells. Galadeno will receive payments related to the research services and its SilenceSelect technology.

Additional financial terms were not provided.

Galapagos said that Galadeno's SilenceSelect technology can knock down more than 4,000 human proteins by producing short interfering RNA in human cells.

Japan's Takara Buys BD's Clontech for $60 Million

Becton Dickinson has signed an agreement to sell its Clontech unit to Japanese firm Takara Bio for $60 million, BD said late last week.

The Clontech business had been on the block since October, but BD was having difficulty finding a buyer. BD finally announced on Friday that Takara would acquire the unit.

BD purchased the Clontech business in 1999 for $201 million. Several years of diminishing revenue returns and a realization that Clontech did not fit BD's business model made the sale a necessity for the medical device and diagnostics firm.

Takara sells restriction enzymes and PCR enzymes as part of its offering of molecular biology tools, though the firm also is developing cell- and gene-based therapies and biotech products for agricultural applications.

In a statement released late last week, Takara said that Clontech's products "in gene function and protein interaction analysis with its newly engineered fluorescent proteins, as well as protein expression vectors" would complement Takara's existing tools. Among Clontech's products are the BD Atlas fluorescent labeling kits for expression profiling, NucleoSpin Extract kits for PCR purification, RNAi systems for regulating protein knowckdown, and TransFactor Universal kits for studying transcription factor-DNA interaction.

An expanded version of this article appeared in this week's issue of BioCommerce Week, an RNAi News sister publication.

Sirna Closes First Part of $28 Million Private Placement

Sirna Therapeutics said this week that it has completed the initial closing of a private placement of about $28 million of the company's common stock and warrants to buy common stock.

In initial portion of the private placement, about 8.3 million shares were priced at $1.60 each, a 4-percent discount to the closing price of the common stock on July 1. The sale, Sirna said, included warrants to purchase almost 3 million shares of the company's common stock at an exercise price of $1.92 per share, a 15-percent premium to the stock's July 1 closing price.

The remainder of the shares and warrants being offered under the placement — approximately 9.2 million shares and warrants to buy roughly 3.3 million shares — will be issued in a second closing that requires Sirna shareholder approval.

Exclusive of any new partnership or collaborative revenue, Sirna said that the financing is expected to provide more than two years of operating cash.

Qiagen to Acquire Nextal for $9.7 Million

Qiagen said last week that it plans to spend $9.7 million to acquire privately held Nextal Biotechnology, a provider of sample-prep consumables for protein crystallization.

Terms of the deal, which will enable Qiagen to sell standardized protein products that encompass standardized cloning, expression, purification, and crystallization, call for Qiagen to spend the $9.7 million buy all of the outstanding capital stock of Nextal. An additional consideration of approximately US$4.5 million is subject to certain undisclosed milestones.

Nextal, based in Montreal, markets a suite of consumables designed to "simplify the process of sample preparation of proteins for subsequent crystallographic analysis," Perlegen said. The technology is believed to be a good business fit with Qiagen's protein sample-prep offerings, including its Qproteome line.

Qiagen, based in Venlo, the Netherlands, said it expects to incur "less than" $1 million in charges during its fiscal second quarter 2005, but said Nextal will add approximately $3 million in net annual sales, and will be neutral to net income to Qiagen's 2006 earnings.

Kreatech, Ambion Combine Platforms in New Gene Expression Kit

Kreatech Biotechnology said last week it will combine Ambion's MessageAmpTM II aRNA-amplification system with its own Universal Linkage labeling technology as part of a kit for gene-expression analysis.

The kit will include a variety of fluorescent dyes, including GE Healthcare's CyDyes, Perkin Elmer's Cyanine Dyes, and Dyomics' DY Dyes. Kreatech will also enclose a biotin labeling system that is suited for Affymetrix's GeneChips.

Costs or financial terms were not disclosed.

The Scan

Rise of BA.5

The New York Times reports that the Omicron subvariant BA.5 has become the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 in the US.

UK Health Secretary Resigns

Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, resigned along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, saying they cannot work with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government, CNN reports.

Clones From Freeze-Dried Cells

A team in Japan has cloned mice from freeze-dried skin cells, according to the Guardian.

Genome Research Papers on Craniosynostosis, Macaque Retrotransposition, More

In Genome Research this week: structural variants in craniosynostosis, LINE-1 activity in rhesus macaque brain, and more.