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Short Reads: Jun 1, 2002 (rev. 1)


With a pledge of more than $65 million, the British government and Wellcome Trust are setting up what is expected to be the world’s largest genetic database, built on DNA samples from half a million Brits.


All attention on pests: Syngenta and the University of Basel announced that they had jointly mapped the genome of plant fungus Ashbya gossypii, expected to be useful in improving crop protection methods. Meantime, Genoptera, the joint venture between Bayer and Exelixis, sequenced Heliothis virescens — the tobacco budworm — in about a year.


Japan’s National Institute of Health Sciences kicked off a five-year, approximately $25 million toxicogenomics project through which institute researchers will collaborate with pharmas to study 150 drug or drug-like compounds.


They’re dropping like Drosophila. Lynx announced layoffs of about 30 percent of its US workforce. Orchid lost about 90 people, or 15 percent of its staff, after restructurings. Xanthon laid off approximately half of its staff in Research Triangle Park, NC, as it sought financing. And Third Wave Technologies got rid of 25 percent of its employees in what it called an “enhanced operating strategy.”

Qiagen acquired Xeragon, a synthetic RNA products company, for approximately $8 million in stock.


Molecular Mining opened new headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., to house its sales, marketing, and business development crew.


New genome centers abound at universities. Yale University will direct $200 million toward the Yale Center for Genomics and Proteomics. The University of Washington received a $2 million gift to start a pathogen genomics center to be co-directed by Chris Wilson and Alan Weiner. Harvard dedicated a Center for Genomics Research at the college as well as the Harvard-Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics, a collaboration between Harvard Med and the parent company of Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. And a $35 million renovation prepared the University of Cincinnati’s Genome Research Institute for a new process in which research is conducted jointly with area organizations Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Wright State University, and Secant.


Glaucus Proteomics announced a supercomputing alliance with European compute giant SARA and network firm GigaPort to improve biocomputing capacity for Glaucus’s genomics and proteomics work.

Wipro, an IT firm in Bangalore, India, started a healthcare and life sciences unit to target software at the bio-IT industry.


UT Southwestern launched a five-year campaign to raise $450 million for medical research, including $50 million for genetic research and bioinformatics. More than $170 million has already been pledged.


GeneFormatics and Incyte Genomics teamed up to identify protein sequence functions based on sequences supplied by Incyte and studied by GeneFormatics.


Structural Bioinformatics expanded its structural proteomics research collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development that began in January 2001.


Sequenom gave Provid Pharmaceuticals an equity investment and will supply the genetic targets it discovers for Provid to use in the development of novel drugs.


MetriGenix will co-develop proteomic chips to use in cardiovascular disease research along with Temple University.


Proteomics company Prolinx will work with software firm BioDiscovery to develop analysis software for protein microarrays.

Schering expects to close the sale of its share of Aventis’ CropScience unit to Bayer by early this month.


The Scan

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.

Machine Learning Improves Diagnostic Accuracy of Breast Cancer MRI, Study Shows

Combining machine learning with radiologists' interpretations further increased the diagnostic accuracy of MRIs for breast cancer, a Science Translational Medicine paper finds.

Genome Damage in Neurons Triggers Alzheimer's-Linked Inflammation

Neurons harboring increased DNA double-strand breaks activate microglia to lead to neuroinflammation like that seen in Alzheimer's disease, a new Science Advances study finds.

Long COVID-19 Susceptibility Clues Contained in Blood Plasma Proteome

A longitudinal study in eBioMedicine found weeks-long blood plasma proteome shifts after SARS-CoV-2 infection, along with proteomic signatures that appeared to coincide with long Covid risk.