A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Meridian Bioscience (Cincinnati) reported pricing of a public offering of 3.3 million shares of common stock at $17.50 a share.

Of the total number, 1.8 million shares are being offered by the company and 1.5 million shares are being offered by the William J. Motto Irrevocable Family Trust. Motto is chairman and CEO of the company.

The shares are being offered in accordance with a shelf registration previously filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said it will receive about $29.6 million in net proceeds from the sale of its shares in the offering and that it will use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, including possible future acquisitions.

The company will not receive any of the proceeds from the shares offered by the trust.

Robert W. Baird & Co. was sole manager of the offering. The public offering of the shares is expected to close on Wednesday.

Meridian is a life science company that manufactures diagnostic test kits, purified reagents and related products and offers biopharmaceutical enabling technologies. The company says that its products are used "outside of the human body and require little or no special equipment." Additionally, Meridian is a supplier of reagents and specialty biologicals along with proteins and other biologicals for use in new drug and vaccine research.

Acacia Research (Newport Beach, California) reported obtaining commitments to purchase about $10.5 million of its Acacia Research-CombiMatrix common stock in a registered direct offering. Acacia will sell about 6.4 million shares of its Acacia Research-CombiMatrix common stock at $1.65 a share to accredited investors and grant to them five-year warrants to purchase about 1.6 million shares of common stock at $2.40 a share.

Piper Jaffray & Co. was exclusive placement agent for the transaction.

Acacia Research comprises two operating groups: Acacia Technologies Group, which develops, acquires and licenses patented technologies; and CombiMatrix Group (Mukilteo, Washington), which is developing a platform technology to rapidly produce customizable arrays, which are semiconductor-based tools for use in identifying and determining the roles of genes, gene mutations and proteins.

Advanced Photonix (Camarillo, California) reported that its wholly owned subsidiary, Picometrix (Ann Arbor, Michigan) has been selected by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC; Lansing) to receive a $1.2 million 2005 Technology Tri-Corridor Award, to be provided in the form of a loan.

The first disbursement is not subject to satisfaction of any condition other than submission of a request and will be in the amount of $600,000. The final $600,000 will be distributed to Picometrix, at Picometrix's request, in three installments not to exceed $168,000 each, and a fourth installment not to exceed $96,000, upon achievement of certain milestones.

Advanced Photonix said Picometrix said they will use the proceeds to apply the company's T-Ray terahertz instrumentation for development of non-destructive testing systems for the pharmaceutical industry.

Rick Kurtz, chairman and CEO of Advanced Photonix, said that Terahertz imaging, "which uses the band of radiation between the microwave and infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, can play a significant role in the pharmaceutical industry, given its emphasis on new process analytical technology [PAT]." The award, he said, would provide for development and commercialization of the company's T-Ray 2000 and QA1000 terahertz systems for the pharmaceutical industry.

PAT is used to conduct material inspection, moisture sensing, spectroscopy and imaging for drug manufacturing and other medical applications.

In other financings-related news:

Molecular Diagnostics (Chicago) reported that new board member Robert McCullough Jr. has added 600,000 shares to his holdings in the company since joining the board.

Molecular Diagnostics develops cancer-screening systems, which can be used in a laboratory or at the point of care, to assist in the early detection of cervical, gastrointestinal and other cancers.

Unigene Laboratories (Fairfield, New Jersey) and Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut) have executed agreements to enable Unigene to acquire exclusive rights to their jointly owned inventions for procedures that may provide physicians with new methodologies for treating and preventing fractures more effectively. Patent applications have been filed for two inventions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The first invention is designed to facilitate and accelerate bone growth in targeted locations in the body using a surgical procedure that can be performed with minimal intervention on an outpatient basis, in combination with one or more therapeutic compounds. The second covers devices that could be used to facilitate bone repair or to create novel prostheses.

Both inventions were conceived in collaboration with Dr. Agnes Vignery, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Yale School of Medicine.

Unigene said it is assembling a group of orthopedic surgeons with whom it will evaluate the technologies in animal and human studies.

Donlin Long, MD, PhD, distinguished professor of neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore), said, "Compression fractures are common and can be very painful. Growing new bone with this invention offers potential relief for the large number of patients who cannot be helped by any treatment now in use."

Dr. Ronald Levy, executive vice president of Unigene, said, "Both the physicians and the pharma industry representatives with whom we discussed this have confirmed the extensive potential of these inventions. They could have a major impact on the way in which serious bone fractures are treated."

Unigene is focused on the oral and nasal delivery of peptide drugs, targeting its initial efforts on developing calcitonin and PTH-based therapies.

Kereos (St. Louis), a biotech company developing imaging agents and therapeutics to improve the detection and treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease, reported raising $19.5 million in a Series B venture financing.

Kereos said the funding would help it to advance its lead product candidates KI-0001, a targeted imaging agent to detect various solid tumors, and KI-1001, a targeted chemotherapeutic to selectively destroy tumors, through Phase I/II clinical trials.

New investors Prolog Ventures, Triathlon Medical Ventures and Charter Life Sciences led the round, along with existing investor RiverVest Venture Partners and Barnes-Jewish Hospital (St. Louis). Additional new investors included Alafi Capital, Apjohn Ventures, Harris and Harris Group, Lux Capital, MB Venture Partners, Sigvion Capital and Vectis Life Science, as well as corporate investors Genen-tech (South San Francisco, California) and Royal Philips Electronics (Amsterdam, the Netherlands).

Robert Beardsley, PhD, president and CEO of Kereos, noted proof-of-concept studies with the company's tumor-targeted MRI agent "supports early cancer diagnosis by allowing physicians to see tumors as small as 1 [mm] to 2 mm in size, and our targeted chemotherapeutic, which delivers potent doses of paclitaxel directly to the tumor."

He also said the company is working in collaboration with corporate and academic partners to develop similar targeted imaging agents and targeted therapeutics for cardiovascular disease."

Gregory Johnson, PhD, managing director of Prolog Ventures, said that Kereos "has achieved a true pairing of complementary molecular imaging and treatment technologies."

Constantine Anagnostopoulos, PhD, Kereos chairman, said the company's technology was founded on the work of Drs. Gregory Lanza and Samuel Wickline at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis), supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Maryland), expanded by working with "major companies" such as Bristol-Myers Squibb Medical Imaging (North Billerica, Massachusetts) and Philips Medical Systems (Andover, Massachusetts).

Kereos said it expects its first products for the detection and treatment of cancer are planned for launch of clinical trials for solid tumors in 2006.

The company is headquartered at the Center for Emerging Technologies in St. Louis.

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