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


More than 60 organizations in the North Carolina Genomics and Bioinformatics Consortium have joined forces with IBM and MCNC to set up the first computer grid to be entirely devoted to life sciences research.


Applied Biosystems has been busy lately. The company acquired Boston Probes for its peptide nucleic acid probe technology in a $32.8 million deal. Since PNA binds better than DNA or RNA, it could improve gene expression and SNP analysis. Meanwhile, ABI’s also collaborated with Northeastern University on separations technology for protein analysis, and helped fund another proteomics project with Millipore at the University of Tokyo.


Phew! We are different from bugs, after all. Acadia Pharmaceuticals, based in San Diego, announced that its chemical-genomics platform successfully used highly specific compounds that identified GPCRs in insects but ignored similar GPCRs in humans, proving that correct compounds can make the distinction between us.


Sequenom scored with the NIH — the company recently got a $2.2 million grant from the agency to fund what may be the largest genome-wide disease association study on record. Sequenom will use assays developed in conjunction with GlaxoSmithKline and the National Cancer Institute to study beta-thalassemia patients.

Who knew the petabyte could be so troublesome? To confront the “Petabyte Problem,” GeneticXchange and Sandpiper Data Systems have agreed to establish the architecture necessary to support life science researchers who require more than a petabyte capacity for data.


At last, we can stop worrying about getting ’thraxed — or at least detecting it when we do. In a poll by the Science Advisory Board, 45 percent of respondents believed resources should be allocated to creating diagnostics for bioterrorism, no surprise to the genomics sector. EraGen Biosciences, based in Madison, Wis., launched an anthrax diagnostic that can detect the pathogen in hours instead of the usual days. And Cellomics of Pittsburgh, Pa., has built a benchtop platform to detect, classify, and identify various agents including anthrax and botulinum neurotoxin.


San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals announced the completion of an initial mapping of human GPCRs. Arena used its oligo-based chips to examine expression levels in more than 700 GPCRs throughout human tissues.


Orchid BioSciences and GlaxoSmithKline have teamed up to work on a genome-wide validation of SNPs for pharmacogenetic studies. It’ll give Glaxo the chance to look through Orchid’s design database and pick the SNP candidates it wants, and Orchid will be able to show off its ultra-high-throughput genotyping technology.