A Medical Device Daily

Invitrogen (Carlsbad, California) has signed a definitive agreement to acquire privately held immunological assay manufacturer Caltag Laboratories (Burlingame, California) in a cash transaction totaling $20 million.

Caltag makes antibodies and reagents for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, private and university hospitals and research laboratories. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2Q05.

"Caltag's expertise in producing antibodies and re-agents for flow cytometry applications adds another key capability to Invitrogen's proteomics portfolio that we strengthened earlier this year with the acquisition of Zymed Laboratories [South San Francisco, California] and its 3,000 antibodies and related products," said Gregory Lucier, chairman and CEO of Invitrogen. "Caltag also strengthens Invitrogen's new Antibody Center of Excellence that we have established in the San Francisco Bay area."

Caltag's expanding collection of antibodies is currently used in cellular research to detect cell surface and intercellular markers in human, rat and mouse cells. The company also is a pioneer in the development and introduction of tandem dyes for multi-color flow cytometry a widely used method for measuring the number of cells in a given sample, the percentage of living cells in that sample, as well as cell characteristics such as size, shape or even the presence of tumor markers on the cell surface.

In addition to its work in the research market, Caltag has developed a number of technologies for diagnostic applications. Fifteen of the company's products have been cleared-to-date by the FDA through the 510(k) process for use as Class II in vitro diagnostic devices.

Invitrogen provides products and services that support academic and government research institutions and pharmaceutical and biotech companies worldwide. The company provides life science technologies for disease research, drug discovery and commercial bioproduction.

Magellan Biosciences (Chelmsford, Massachusetts), a provider of instruments, automated systems, and point-of-care products and consumables for biomedical research and clinical diagnostics, reported purchasing TekCel (Hopkinton, Massachusetts). Terms were not disclosed.

A developer of sample management and assay automation systems for biomedical research, TekCel employs about 35, all "expected to remain with the company," it said.

"With the acquisition of TekCel, Magellan is now of sufficient scale to take advantage of opportunities that are beyond the reach of smaller enterprises," said Robert Rosenthal, president and CEO of Magellan. "Our goal is to deliver consistent profitable growth through our own internal product development and selective acquisitions. Now, with revenues of nearly $50 million, we can afford to invest in the advanced systems and infrastructure necessary to build a world-class company."

Rosenthal added: "Our scientists and engineers from across the company can now work together to share expertise, ideas, and technology platforms, opening up new frontiers for customers, and driving growth for Magellan. For example, TekCel's automation expertise will be useful to Dynex as it continues development of its next-generation automated microplate-based immunoassay workstations. TekCel will benefit from ESA and Dynex's experience as TekCel explores how its secure sample-storage products may be used in the clinical market, particularly at labs conducting clinical trials."

In other dealmaking news:

Medeorex (New York) said it has agreed to acquire privately held CardioGenics (Toronto). The transaction is scheduled to close by June 24.

The acquisition will be completed through a merger between CardioGenics and a to-be-formed wholly owned Ontario subsidiary of Medeorex, in which that company will issue shares of its common stock to the shareholders of CardioGenics.

Following the merger, the current shareholders of CardioGenics will hold 75% of the outstanding shares of Medeorex and current Medeorex shareholders will retain 25% of the outstanding shares of Medeorex.

After completion of the merger, CardioGenics will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Medeorex. Completion of the transaction is subject to receipt of a fairness opinion as to the valuation of CardioGenics, completion of due diligence, agreement on definitive documentation, and board of directors and shareholder approval by both companies.

CardioGenics, founded in 1997, is a biotech company focused on the development of products for in vitro diagnostics testing.

GenVault (San Diego), which bills itself as an integrated biosample management company, reported that it will acquire full rights to the DNA labeling intellectual property invented by Nigel Atkinson and Brian Haarer, resear-chers at the University of Texas (Austin).

GenVault said that the patent allows GenVault to offer GenCode, its DNA labeling technology, to a broader market and positions it as the only company to offer double labeling for nucleic acid samples. GenCode said it offers the benefit of a barcode that permanently identifies each bio-sample and remains with the sample even after removal from its container and eluted from its original storage medium. Therefore, a sample can be traced back to the original sample, regardless of its physical state.

David Wellis, senior vice president, marketing and sales for GenVault, said, "DNA labeling has been an integral part of our system that improves upon current biosample labeling techniques."

Health Discovery Corp. (HDC; Savannah, Georgia) said it has completed the acquisition of a support vector machine (SVM) patent portfolio, which includes issued patents and pending patent applications, as well as, the immediate launch of a new licensing and product development program.

According to the company, the program will offer rights to use its patented and patent-pending developments in the fields of learning machines and knowledge discovery. HDC's patent portfolio includes coverage of developments in the field of support vector machines from the work of several experts, including Vladimir Vapnik and Isabelle Guyon, co-inventors of the SVM, and members of HDC's scientific team.

HDC originally acquired rights to use these patents for its use in biomarker discovery. The complete ownership of this intellectual property portfolio, the company said, gives it a strong foothold in the future development of biomarkers, one of the "most exciting and important areas of diagnostic and drug discovery as well as drug safety for generating a personalized medicine approach to healthcare."

Vencor International (Beverly Hills, California) reported the termination of its relationship with AccuDx (San Diego). After additional due diligence, it was mutually determined that merging the technologies of Vencor and AccuDx would not result in the level of synergy desired by both companies.

Vencor originally acquired AccuDx in July 2003 for its Crystalcytes technology, developed as the result of AccuDx investigations into the properties and applications of nanoparticles. AccuDx also developed another brand protection technology called Clirmark, a chembio marker technology used as a stand-alone taggant or in conjunction with Crystalcytes technology.

As a result of the termination, Vencor Diagnostic and Bio-Tech Division are now in the process of negotiating a spin-off of the division. According to Vencor's management, this will pave the way for Vencor to focus all of its energies and efforts on its core business, the apparel and natural beauty industry.