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Fisher Biosciences and U. of Michigan, Beckman Coulter and Diagnostic Systems, Dharmacon, Qiagen and Institut Curie, Agilent and Mogene, Specialty Labs and Roche, and Third Wave, Digene, Chiron, and Bayer

Fisher to Fund Genomic, Proteomic Research at Univ. of Michigan

Fisher Biosciences, a unit of Fisher Scientific, will collaborate with the University of Michigan to develop new tools for genomic and proteomic research, the company said this week.

Under the five-year agreement, Fisher will financially support research projects at the Center for Chemical Genomics, a new center that is part of the university's Life Sciences Institute. Technologies to be developed are in the areas of high-throughput screening and detection, protein expression, chemical diversity, and bioinformatics.

In exchange for the funding, Fisher will have the opportunity to license new technologies resulting from the research.

Fisher said it is targeting the development of new procedures for protein testing and sample preparation, new ways of using RNA-interference products, and broader applications of high-content screening.

Beckman Coulter to Acquire Endocrine Testing Firm

Beckman Coulter will acquire specialty immunoassay provider Diagnostic Systems Laboratories of Webster, Texas, the company said last week.

Beckman will pay $138 million, less a certain amount of undisclosed debt, for DSL, according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Beckman. The acquisition is expected to close this week.

DSL, which had approximately $34 million in sales last year, markets three reproductive endocrinology tests and holds exclusive rights to a potential biomarker of cardiovascular risk. "Coupling DSL's expertise and proprietary tests with Beckman Coulter's ... immunoassay platforms should be a winning combination," said Michael Whelan, group vice president of Beckman's immunoassay business, in a satatement.

DSL sells over 190 products for androgen assessment, fertility and reproductive function, mineral and salt balance, bone and mineral metabolism, growth factors, metabolism, disease markers, thyroid function, and serology, according to a Beckman spokesperson. The firm also offers over 380 research reagents including peptides and/or specific antibodies for Inhibins, leptins, orexins, ghrelin, and the various members of the GH-IGF-IGFBP axis.

While Beckman will gain all of these products through the acquisition, the firm is particularly interested in Inhibin A, Inhibin B, PAPP-A, and Anti-Mullerian Hormone, the spokesperson said.

Dharmacon Forms RNAi Alliance with Nonprofits

Nine nonprofit research organizations have formed the Genome-Wide RNAi Global Initiative, which aims to use Dharmacon's complete siRNA library to target genes throughout the human genome in functional-genomics research, the Lafayette, Colo.-based company announced last week.

The initial members of the initiative are mostly cancer-research institutions, many of which plan to incorporate the siRNA library into high-throughput screening facilities, the Fisher Scientific subsidiary said.

The founding members of the initiative are: The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Hospital and Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital, both with the University of Toronto; Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at the London Research Institute and the Institute of Cancer Research; the German Cancer Research Center; UNMC Eppley Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center; the Netherlands Cancer Institute; the Scottish Centre for Genomic Technology and Informatics based at the University of Edinburgh Medical School; the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; and Yale University, Dharmacon said.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, and MRC Cancer Cell Unit are also expected to join the Global Initiative, pending final institutional approval, the company said. The firm expects the initiative to expand further with the addition of more members in the coming months.

The first meeting of the Genome-Wide RNAi Global Initiative will take place in Boston on Oct. 17 and 18.

Qiagen, Institut Curie to Develop High-Throughput RNAi Tools

Qiagen will work with the Institut Curie of France to develop high-throughput RNA interference screening tools, the company said this week.

The collaboration is part of Institut Curie's BioPhenics project, which aims to combine RNAi technology and phenotypic analysis for cancer research, using cell biology and microscopic imaging.

Qiagen will contribute siRNA design and its HiPerFect delivery reagent.

Agilent Taps Mogene as Service Provider for CGH Services

Mogene has become a certified service provider for Agilent Technologies' comparative genomic hybridization services, the company said today.

Mogene, based in St. Louis, was already a certified service provider for Agilent gene expression microarrays.

Specialty Labs to Sell Roche's CYP450 Assay

Clinical reference lab Specialty Laboratories said this week that it has signed an agreement to begin co-marketing Roche Diagnostics' AmpliChip CYP450 assay by the end of the month.

The AmpliChip CYP450, which is built upon the Affymetrix microarray platform, analyzes the cytochrome P450 2D6 and 2C19 genotypes to help determine the appropriate dosages of medications for a variety of conditions, including pain medication, cardiac disease, cancer, and depression.

David Weavil, CEO of Specialty Laboratories, said in a statement that the assay "can help determine whether a standard dose of a drug metabolized in a patient with a particular genotype would be appropriate, or whether it might cause significant or serious side effects, or even toxicity." The test can also "predict whether a standard dosing schedule of expensive medications would be cleared from a person's body so quickly that it does not achieve effective therapeutic levels," Weavil said.

Specialty said that it also plans to launch a marketing campaign "to educate clients about the test's value."

Third Wave Sues Digene, Chiron, and Bayer over HCV and HPV Diagnostics

Third Wave Technologies said this week that it has filed two patent suits in federal court in Madison, Wis., related to its diagnostic tests for human paplilloma virus and hepatitis C virus.

On Friday, the company said, it filed suit against Digene, seeking a court ruling supporting its right to sell its HPV diagnostics.

Today, Third Wave also filed suit against Chiron, Bayer Corp., and Bayer HealthCare LLC requesting a similar ruling about its right to sell its HCV products. Chiron owns "several patents" relating to HCV and Bayer is its licensee for clinical diagnostics, Third Wave said.

"Third Wave wants to clear any remaining ambiguities about the company's freedom to operate in valuable markets like those for HCV and HPV," said John Puisis, president and CEO of Third Wave, in a statement. "The value of the Invader chemistry and our pipeline is substantial and we see these actions as a logical progression to protect and expand our market presence."

The suits are the latest in a rash of litigation for the company.

On Sept. 29, Innogenetics of Gent, Belgium, said that it had filed suit against Third Wave and Abbott Laboratories for infringing US Patent No. 5,846,704, which covers a process for typing HCV isolates. On that same day, Third Wave claimed victory in another suit after a US district barred Stratagene from selling its FullVelocity products, which the court said infringe two patents for Third Wave's Invader chemistry.


The Scan

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.

Estonian Biobank Team Digs into Results Return Strategies, Experiences

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics outline a procedure developed for individual return of results for the population biobank, along with participant experiences conveyed in survey data.

Rare Recessive Disease Insights Found in Individual Genomes

Researchers predict in Genome Medicine cross-population deletions and autosomal recessive disease impacts by analyzing recurrent nonallelic homologous recombination-related deletions.

Genetic Tests Lead to Potential Prognostic Variants in Dutch Children With Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Researchers in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine found that the presence of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants was linked to increased risk of death and poorer outcomes in children with pediatric dilated cardiomyopathy.