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Rosetta Genomics, Parkway Clinical Laboratories, Nastech Pharmaceutical, MDRNA, MD Anderson

Rosetta Genomics Buys CLIA Lab for $2.9M in Cash, Stock to Support miRNA Dx Efforts
Rosetta Genomics this week said that it has signed a binding term sheet to acquire Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified laboratory Parkway Clinical Laboratories for $2.9 million in a bid to speed its introduction of microRNA-based diagnostics.
Under the terms of the deal, Rosetta will buy the Pennsylvania-based lab for $1.9 million in cash and $1 million in Rosetta common stock. Rosetta will pay an additional $300,000 upon the achievement on certain undisclosed milestones.
Parkway’s “wide experience in diagnostic testing and regulatory compliance will provide us with strong commercial infrastructure that will complement our advanced [research and development] capabilities,” Rosetta President and CEO Amir Avniel said in a statement.
Following consummation of the acquisition, 33 of Parkway’s employees will join Rosetta including Parkway’s CEO, President, and Chairman Raza Bokhari, who will serve as Rosetta’s Chief Development Officer.
Rosetta is developing a number of miRNA diagnostics, including a test designed to differentiate squamous from non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer that has already been submitted for approval by the New York State Department of Health.
Although this test is expected to be marketed nationally by Columbia University Medical Center, which collaborated with Rosetta to develop the test, Rosetta said that the purchase of Parkway is expected to allow it to “control the commercialization of its diagnostics, including marketing, sales, and reimbursement strategy.”
Rosetta isn’t alone in seeking this sort of control. Its deal for Parkway comes just months after Exiqon, which is developing its own miRNA diagnostics, bought California-based oncology-testing services provider Oncotech, which has its own CLIA lab (see RNAi News, 4/10/2008).

Nastech Shareholders OK Company’s Change to RNAi-Focused MDRNA
Nastech Pharmaceutical said this week that its shareholders have approved the company’s change of name to MDRNA.
MDRNA was originally established to be a spin-out of Nastech focused on RNAi-based therapeutics. However, after a series of setbacks that have battered Nastech stock, the company decided to assume the MDRNA persona itself (see RNAi News, 5/15/2008).
In conjunction with the corporate reorganization, Nastech also said that it has appointed Michael French, who formerly served as senior vice president of corporate development at Sirna Therapeutics, as its new CEO.
French, who also briefly served as president of Rosetta Genomics’ US operations, will replace Nastech’s former President, CEO, and Chairman Steven Quay, who will become MDRNA’s CSO and chairman.

Rosetta Genomics, MD Anderson to Collaborate on Lung Cancer Dx
Rosetta Genomics said last week that it will collaborate with researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Kleberg Center for Molecular Markers to develop a microRNA-based test to predict risk of disease recurrence in lung cancer patients who have undergone curative resection.
The partners said patients with high risk of recurrence may benefit from adjuvant therapy after surgical resection, but low-risk patients may be exposed to unnecessary toxicities.
They hope to develop a test that will enable physicians to distinguish between patients with high risk and low risk of recurrence, which would help them optimize treatment regimens.
“By leveraging microRNAs’ unique sensitivity as biomarkers, we have an opportunity to develop a novel test that will assist clinicians and patients to better manage this type of cancer,” Ignacio Wistuba, associate professor in the department of pathology at MD Anderson Cancer, said in a statement.
The Kleberg Center for Molecular Markers is part of MD Anderson.

Invitrogen to Acquire Applied Biosystems for $6.7B
Invitrogen and Applied Biosystems announced this week that Invitrogen will acquire all of the outstanding shares of ABI in a cash and stock deal valued at $6.7 billion.
The acquisition combines Invitrogen’s portfolio of reagents and low-cost instruments focused on the molecular and cell biology and protein research markets with ABI’s vast array of consumables and instruments for applications such as DNA sequencing, proteomics, RNAi, gene expression, and applied testing.
The combined company, which will retain the Applied Biosystems name but will be based at Invitrogen’s headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., will have approximately $3.5 billion in revenue, of which roughly 70 percent will come from consumables and services.
Invitrogen Chairman and CEO Greg Lucier and ABI President and COO Mark Stevenson will hold the same roles in the combined company. The board of directors will include nine current Invitrogen board members and three ABI board members, though the firms did not disclose the names of those directors.
The combined firm will boast a sales and service force of approximately 3,000 employees and have customers in more than 100 countries.
Under terms of the deal, ABI shareholders will receive $38 for each share they own in the form of Invitrogen stock and cash, with cash accounting for 45 percent of the split. The purchase price represents a 12 percent premium to ABI’s average closing price for the previous 30 trading days.
The firms expect the transaction to close in the fall, pending regulatory and shareholder approval.

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.