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Short Reads: Sep 3, 2012


Life Technologies has acquired consumer genetic testing firm Navigenics. According to Life Tech, the deal represents its "first step in executing against a strategy to build out its molecular diagnostics business through internal development, partnerships, and select acquisitions." Life Tech has also acquired Pinpoint Genomics and its early-stage non-small cell lung cancer test, which is designed to identify early-stage patients at high risk for progression to late-stage disease.

Life Technologies also plans to accelerate development of its Ion Torrent technology for proteomic applications. The company says it has passed certain internal R&D milestones linked to applying the technology to proteomics. It also anticipates initial applications in transplant diagnostics, microbiology, and food safety testing.

23andMe has submitted the first of several 510(k) applications to gain clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration for its Personal Genome Service. The first submission, made to the Office of In Vitro Diagnostic Device Evaluation and Safety at FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, included information about seven genetic tests that are included as part of its service.

The facility that performed anti-doping testing at this summer's Olympic Games in London is set to be transformed into a research center focused on phenomics-based disease studies. The UK's Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research are contributing £10 million ($15.6 million)- total for the center to study disease susceptibility biomarkers and to develop personalized treatments.

Jonas Korlach is the new chief scientific officer at Pacific Biosciences. Korlach was previously a scientific fellow at PacBio, and he is a co-inventor of the company's single molecule real-time sequencing technology along with founder Stephen Turner.

The New York Genome Center has launched its Innovation Center, which is to provide its members with access to sequencing technologies. The Innovation Center will initially be equipped with four Ion Proton sequencers from Life Technologies, which will be housed at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The NYGC's pilot laboratory at Rockefeller University is also expected to handle some of the Innovation Center's sequencing and data analysis. Additionally, the NYGC signed a 20-year lease for 170,000 square feet of space in a high rise in downtown Manhattan, which it plans to move into in 2013.

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute published a performance comparison between the Ion Torrent PGM, Illumina MiSeq, and Pacific Biosciences PacBio RS sequencers that found key differences between the platforms in terms of data quality and applications supported.

Michael Rhodes has joined NanoString Technologies as director of collaboration and applications development. Most recently, Rhodes was the senior manager in charge of Life Technologies' sequencing portfolio. He joined Applied Biosystems' genetic analysis division in 1999 before the company merged with Invitrogen and became Life Tech.

Greg Linder will retire from his positions as VP and controller at Abbott Laboratories. Those roles will be filled by Robert Funck, who has been with the company since 1987 and who has most recently served as VP and chief ethics and compliance officer.

Real Time Genomics has appointed Pamela Morley to be VP of worldwide commercial operations. Morley recently served as a VP at Fluidigm and spent two decades at Applied Biosystems, where she held the post of director of service for molecular biology, proteomics, and mass spectrometry products, among others.

Genentech is conducting a pilot project to assess the feasibility of using 23andMe's direct-to-consumer genomics service to collect patient-reported genetic data and outcomes information for genome-wide association studies. The clinical trial, called InVite, is recruiting metastatic breast cancer patients treated with Genentech's Avastin. The partners hope to enroll 1,000 patients and recruitment is taking place through 23andMe's online customer base as well as through referrals from patient advocacy organizations.

Biodesix has appointed Dominic Spinella to be VP of clinical development and medical affairs. Spinella most recently served as executive director and head of translational and molecular medicine for Pfizer's Biotherapeutics division and has also led Pfizer Oncology's translational medicine division.

Illumina has introduced a pricing structure that will limit the amount of free space available for storing and processing genomic data in BaseSpace, its cloud environment; HiSeq systems will be connected to BaseSpace later this year. In addition, Illumina is launching BaseSpace Apps, which will include data analysis tools and applications created and sold by Illumina partner companies.

Judith Bond started her one-year term as president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Bond is a professor emeritus of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State College of Medicine, and she was formerly president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute are launching a project called Genome Ethics, which aims to gather data to help guide policy decisions regarding sharing findings from whole-genome research studies. The project is part of the Sanger's ongoing Deciphering Developmental Disorders study.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas has awarded dozens of grants totaling $114.7 million to 20 institutions, including Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Rice University. The grants are intended to support studies on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and understanding of cancer.

Iowa's state Board of Regents has approved a University of Iowa plan to create a genomics-based research and clinical medicine institute at its Carver College of Medicine.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.