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Nucleonics and Benitec, Fisher Scientific, Atos Medical and Nordic Capital, Galapagos Genomics, and Ambion

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Nucleonics Takes Steps Against Benitec IP in Poland

Nucleonics said last week that it has filed with the Polish patent office prior art citations the company claims invalidates a patent application filed by Benitec in that country.

The move marks the latest in a series of challenges Nucleonics has filed against Benitec intellectual property as part of the companies’ ongoing IP-related legal dispute (see RNAi News, 1/14/2005).

According to Nucleonics, the prior art sent to Polish patent regulators relate to Benitec’s patent application No. PL 343 064, entitled “Control of Gene Expression,” and allegedly demonstrates that the application makes claims that lack novelty and/or do not involve an inventive step.

Nucleonics also reported this week that it has received two Australian patents related to RNAi.

According to the company, the first patent — No. 776150 and entitled “Composition and Method for In Vivo and In Vitro Attenuation of Gene Expression Using Double-Stranded RNA” — covers the use of synthetically produced as well as DNA-encoded double-stranded RNA in vertebrates for attenuation of gene expression. The claims cover the use of RNAi in vertebrate cell culture and animals, as well as RNAi-based human therapeutics.

The second patent — No. 2004100997 and entitled “Composition and Method for In Vivo and In Vitro Attenuation of Gene Expression Using Double-Stranded RNA” — contains similar claims including a method for treating or preventing disease or infection in a vertebrate comprising: identifying a target gene, wherein expression of the target gene is associated with the disease or infection; and attenuating the expression of the target gene, Nucleonics said.

Nucleonics said it “will be considering the activities of companies in Australia carrying out research and commercial use of RNAi covered under the claims of the … patents, and may offer sublicenses to this pivotal intellectual property.”


Fisher to Sell Atos for $110 Million to Nordic Capital

Fisher Scientific said this week that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell Atos Medical, a manufacturer of ear, nose, and throat medical devices, to Nordic Capital for $110 million in cash.

Fisher acquired Atos, which had sales of $35 million last year, in 2003 when it purchased Perbio Science.

Fisher expects its sale of Atos to close in the beginning of the second quarter.


Galapagos Genomics Mulls Stock Exchange Listing

Galapagos Genomics said this week that it is considering a Euronext stock exchange listing some time this year.

According to the company, the primary reason for the listing is to raise funds to support its drug-discovery operations, which are focused on developing medicines for bone and joint diseases such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Additional details of the possible listing were not provided.


Ambion Opens Japanese Subsidiary, Signs Diagnostics Deal with Wyeth

Ambion said this week that it has formally opened its Japanese subsidiary, Ambion KK, in Tokyo.

“Our ability to offer services directly to our customers in Japan will allow us to develop closer relationships and offer additional services that will enhance their experience using our products and working with Ambion,” Matt Winkler, CEO of Ambion, said in a statement. “This is a natural evolution in our growth.”

Yosuke Sawada has been appointed president of Ambion KK. The Japan office has been established to focus on providing quality technical and customer service and fast direct shipment to dealers and customers, Ambion said.

Ambion also said this week that its Ambion Diagnostics division has signed a new agreement with Wyeth to continue the companies’ RNA manufacturing arrangement.

Under the new deal, Ambion Diagnostics will manufacture cGMP-grade RNA transcripts according to QSR guidelines and provide them to Wyeth at a scale sufficient to meet its requirements for phase I/II clinical trials of human therapeutics.

Additional terms were not disclosed.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.