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Opko Health, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Cold Spring Harbor Press, Invitrogen, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Opko, Pa. Economic Development Group Settle Litigation
Opko Health and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania have settled their legal dispute over contractual obligations between the economic development organization and Acuity Pharmaceuticals, which Opko acquired in early 2007, RNAi News has learned.
According to court documents, Ben Franklin Technology Partners has agreed to dismiss its lawsuit against Opko. Details of the settlement were not available. A spokesperson for Opko said that the company does not comment on litigation.
As reported by RNAi News, Ben Franklin Technology Partners has sued Opko for allegedly breaching a contractual obligation requiring it to pay it more than $800,000 worth of stock warrants if one of its business components was to move out of the state before an agreed-upon date (see RNAi News, 11/28/2007).
After Opko acquired Philadelphia-based Acuity, it consolidated its operations in Florida (see RNAi News, 3/29/2007).

Cold Spring Harbor Press Releases Protocols for Developmental Studies
Cold Spring Harbor Press announced last week the availability of two RNA-based methods for developmental studies in Cold Spring Harbor Protocols.
According to Cold Spring Harbor Press, the first protocol describes the use of RNAi to investigate gene function in Drosophila. It is available freely here.
“Short RNA molecules are injected into fly embryos to disrupt the function of a specific gene,” the publisher said. “The embryos are then allowed to grow until they have reached a desired stage of development, when they are evaluated for changes that may have occurred due to the disruption of the gene.” 
The second protocol, available here, describes how to detect where and when a gene is expressed in young plant tissues such as embryos, seedlings, floral tissues, and other developing organs, according to the publisher.
“The tissues are stained with a non-radioactive probe that specifically targets RNA molecules from a gene of interest,” Cold Spring Harbor Press said. “The staining pattern is then detected by microscopy [and can be analyzed] in a variety of tissue samples at different stages in development to gain a better understanding of the function of that gene.”  

Invitrogen Posts 12 Percent Revenue Growth for Q4
Invitrogen this week reported a 12 percent increase in fourth-quarter revenues while its loss in last year’s fourth quarter swung to a profit.
Invitrogen had fourth-quarter revenues of $336.4 million, up from $301.6 million in the comparable period of 2006. Revenues for its BioDiscovery segment rose 13.5 percent year over year to $239 million, while revenue from the Cell Systems segment climbed 7 percent to $97 million.
“We were able to achieve this level of financial improvement due to the focus we put on three core areas in 2007: driving organic growth, optimizing mix, and improving operational efficiencies,” said Greg Lucier, Invitrogen’s chairman and CEO, during a conference call. “We made great progress against all of these areas last year.”
Invitrogen’s R&D expenses rose 26.8 percent to $31.2 million from $24.6 million, while SG&A costs increased 9.4 percent year over year to $106.8 million from $97.6 million.
The firm posted net income of $41.1 million, or $.83 per share, compared to a net loss of $100.2 million, or $2.03 million per share. Last year, Invitrogen took $148.9 million in charges related to the sale of its BioReliance unit, which it listed as discontinued operations on its balance sheet. Excluding those charges, the firm had Q4 2006 net income of $48.5 million, or $.99 per share.
BioReliance was sold early in 2007 to private equity firm Avista Capital Partners for approximately $210 million.
For full-year 2007, Invitrogen reported 11 percent revenue growth to $1.28 billion from $1.15 billion. BioDiscovery segment revenues increased 10.7 percent to $902.2 million from $814.7 million, while Cell Systems revenue climbed 12.8 percent to $379.5 million from $336.5 million.
Its full-year R&D spending increased 11 percent to $115.8 million from $104.3 million. SG&A spending rose 8.8 percent to $416.1 million from $382.5 million year over year.
Invitrogen posted a fiscal-year 2007 profit of $143.2 million, or $2.95 per share, compared to a net loss of $191 million, or $3.60 per share, in 2006. Excluding charges related to BioReliance, its full-year 2006 net income was $185.1 million, or $3.51 per share.
Invitrogen finished 2007 with $671.3 million in cash and investments.
Company officials said during the call that they expect full-year 2008 revenues to grow in the mid-single digits, net income to increase in the low-double digits, and EPS to increase in the high-single to low-double digits. Quarterly growth rates will vary due to a variety of factors, they said.

Thermo Fisher Q4 Revenues, Profit Beat Analysts' Expectations
Thermo Fisher Scientific this week reported soaring profits and a 57 percent increase in revenues for the fourth quarter of 2007 ended Dec. 31, beating Wall Street’s expectations for the firm.
Thermo Fisher reported fourth-quarter revenues of $2.62 billion compared to $1.67 billion in the fourth quarter of 2006. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial, on average, expected revenues of $2.51 billion. On a pro forma basis — if the operations of Thermo Electron and Fisher Scientific had been combined for the full fourth quarter of 2006 — revenue growth would have been 12 percent from $2.35 billion last year.
The firms completed their $10.6 billion merger in November 2006.
Thermo Fisher posted a fourth-quarter profit of $239.8 million, or $.54 per share, up from a profit of $25.3 million, or $0.08 per share, in the comparable period last year, when the firm took a $125 million charge related to the merger. On a pro forma basis, net earnings were $0.76 per share, up from $0.57 in the fourth quarter of 2006. The results beat analysts’ expectations of $0.69 per share.
The firm’s R&D costs grew 17.6 percent in the quarter to $61.4 million from $52.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2006, while SG&A expenses increased 38.5 percent to $558 million from $403 million.
For full-year 2007, Thermo Fisher reported revenue of $9.75 billion, up from $3.79 billion for 2006. On a pro forma basis, revenues for 2006 would have been $8.87 billion and revenue growth for 2007 would have been 10 percent.
Net earnings for full-year 2007 were $761.1 million, or $1.72 per share, compared with $168.9 million, or $.84 per share, for 2006. The firm’s R&D spending rose to $238.7 million from $170.2 million in 2006, while SG&A costs rose sharply to $2.1 billion from $952.7 million.
Thermo Fisher finished 2007 with $636.2 million in cash and cash equivalents.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.