Industry news in brief - week 49

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT brings you its periodic round up of industry
news, with developments at Agilent, Beckman Coulter, Biolytix,
Knome, Millipore, Nanogen and Qiagen.

Agilent​ and Multiprobe​ are expanding their strategic partnership to enable Agilent to supply customers in Asia and Japan with the world s highest-resolution nanoprober, Multiprobe's Multiscan Atomic Force Prober (AFP). The Multiscan AFP uses multiple, specialized atomic force microscope heads to locate a failing transistor and contact extremely close-spaced terminals. The arrangement strengthens the existing relationship between the two companies and expands Agilent s product offerings. Multiprobe is already using the Agilent B1500A semiconductor device analyser in its current products. Beckman Coulter​ has acquired the remaining 80.1 per cent of NexGen Diagnostics​ to gain access to its breakthrough molecular diagnostics systems. NexGen was spun-out of Lumigen prior to its acquisition by Beckman Coulter in 2006, which gave Beckman Coulter a 19.9 per cent stake in the company. Beckman Coulter expects to take a charge of approximately $36m for in-process R&D when the acquisition closes before the end of the year. "We are very enthusiastic about the potential that these proprietary technologies have to improve patient health and reduce the cost of care. If fully realized, they will simplify and automate certain types of immunodiagnostic and nucleic acid testing in remarkable ways, dramatically enhancing the performance of assays and accelerating turn-around time of test results,"​ said Richard Creager, corporate vice president of Beckman Coulter's Immunoassay Business Center. Biolytix​ is to offer industrial gene expression analysis and genotyping services to the academic and industrial R&D community using Affymetrix' GeneChip​ technology. The company has acquired a complete GeneChip instrument system to enhance the range of services it offers to now include standard gene expression analysis, SNP genotyping, gene mapping, transcriptome mapping, gene regulation and re-sequencing. Knome​ has launched the first commercial whole-genome sequencing and analysis service for individuals for $350,000 per genome. The sequence data will undergo comprehensive analysis from a team of leading geneticists, clinicians and bioinformaticians and will offer support and counselling after analysis. "Whole-genome sequencing is the endgame; it will enable us to look at nearly 100% of your genetic code compared to the less than 0.02% currently available on SNP chips. This is the approach that most fully reveals what our genomes can tell us about ourselves,"​ said Jorge Conde, CEO of Knome. "Knome's goal is to establish the gold standard in personal genomic services for individuals. We are bringing our clients the latest sequencing technology, Knome's proprietary analytic engine and security solutions, and access to top genomic scientists and medical professionals." Millipore​ is to collaborate with Abeome​ Corporation to develop and distribute a novel stem cell antibody, Human Embryonic Stem Cell Antigen-1 (HESCA-1), that targets a cell surface protein that is potentially a unique marker for embryonic stem cells. The antigen is present in at least 5 different human embryonic stem (hES) cell lines but does not appear to be expressed on differentiated or feeder cell types. "HESCA-1 highlights Millipore's commitment to providing innovative tools for the advancement of human embryonic stem cell research,"​ said Donald O'Neil, director of marketing for stem cells and cell biology at Millipore. "This demonstrates yet another example of our strategy to provide the most complete integrated stem cell offering, cutting across the entire stem cell workflow." Nanogen​ has received notice from the Nasdaq Stock Market​ advising that for the previous 30 days preceding the date of the letter, the bid price of the company's common stock had closed below the $1 per share minimum bid price required for continued inclusion on the Nasdaq Global Market pursuant to Nasdaq Marketplace Rule 4450(a)(5). Nanogen has been given 180 calendar days, or until 27 May 2008, to regain compliance with the minimum bid price rule that states that the bid price per share must close at $1 per share for 10 consecutive days before that date. Qiagen​ and Bio*One Capital​, one of the largest dedicated biomedical investment management companies in Asia, have entered into a joint venture to establish one of the first assay development for infectious and genetic diseases. The venture has been named Dx Assays Pte Ltd​ and is expected to be fully operational by early 2008 and employ over 30 scientists equipped with state-of-the-art technology. "The in-depth expertise and talent pool in biomedical research makes Singapore an ideal location for a centre for assay development,"​ said Peer Schatz, CEO of Qiagen. "This joint venture brings to Qiagen further resources to contribute to our goal to further broaden our global portfolio of molecular testing solutions, to further accelerate our development speed and to expand our market and technology leadership in this fastest growing segment of diagnostics.

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