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Markers/Short Reads: Jul 1, 2004


This month marks the passing of an idiosyncrasy that has been with GenBank since 1995: its 350-kilobase limit on the length of sequences entered into the database.


NIH announced the launch of its Chemical Genomics Center under the aegis of NHGRI. According to NIH, this is the first unit of a planned network that will be followed by up to 10 pilot centers expected to be funded for FY 2005.


Rockefeller University scientists are gearing up to genotype more than 3,200 people from a small island population for a study that aims to find genes related to diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. This could also serve as a large-scale validation test for Affymetrix, which will provide the 100K array set for the experiment before the chips are formally launched this summer.


Agilent Technologies released what it proclaims as the first tool to standardize and grade RNA quality. If the technology catches on, users of RNA might one day refer to their sample by Agilent’s rating based on a scale of one to 10, a step that the company says will enable better comparison of data and sample quality. In other news, Agilent has teamed up with the Translational Genomics Research Institute to develop microarrays for comparative genomic hybridization uses in cancer research.

Cell Signaling Technology will run a pilot study for AstraZeneca using its phospho-proteomics platform on the pharma’s compounds in an effort to find biomarkers linked to target inhibition.


MetaMorphix and Cargill announced the completion of the first association study on the cow genome, through which they say they’ve developed tools to assure quality and consistency in cattle.


The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation awarded a grant to Athersys, based in Cleveland, Ohio. Athersys will use its protein expression technology as part of an endeavor to find proteins that assist in the formation of certain pancreatic cells.


Enzo Biochem and Yale University filed suit against Applera and its subsidiary

Tropix for allegedly infringing DNA sequencing technology patented by Yale and the biotech’s subsidiary Enzo Life Sciences. In a separate suit, Enzo was sued by Roche Diagnostics and Roche Molecular Systems over the company’s claims to microarray-related technologies.


Hycor Biomedical and Stratagene have finally tied the knot. Close to a year after announcing their merger, which was subsequently delayed twice, the two companies have sorted things out and Hycor will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Stratagene.

Large Scale Biology, which announced last November that it would shut down its proteomic contract services unit, was scheduled last month to auction off its surplus proteomic equipment. Mass spec, robotic plates, and liquid handling were among the types of instruments slated to go on the block.


NHGRI has thrown its lot in with the Australian Genome Research Facility, agreeing to add to the coverage of the genome sequence of the tammar wallaby, a member of the kanagaroo family. The Australian state of Victoria has already put up $3.2 million for the first phase of the project.


RNAi company Sirna Therapeutics has embarked on a project to study the application of RNAi technologies to Huntington’s disease and, by extension, other central nervous system diseases.


The biotechnology management firm Mardi, Aibel, and Associates presented results from a recent study at the BIO 2004 conference showing that public biotechnology companies that make greater use of best management practices experience a 20 percent higher average annual growth rate. Only five percent of biotech companies have adopted the full range of best practices, the study says.


Caprion Pharmaceuticals has acquired therapeutic antibodies currently in Phase I clinical trials from Miramar, Fla.-based Sunol Molecular for the treatment of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.


The Scan

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.