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Short Reads: Jun 1, 2007


The National Human Genome Research Institute awarded $57 million in grants to 10 projects under its modENCODE Project, which aims to study the functional elements in the genomes of the model organisms Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. Recipients include Steven Henikoff, Gary Karpen, Eric Lai, Jason Lieb, David MacAlpine, Fabio Piano, Michael Snyder, Robert Waterston, and Kevin White.

The US Food and Drug Administration classified gene expression-based breast cancer prognostic tests as Class II devices and released a “special controls” guidance for companies developing such tests. The document is designed as a prototype guidance for how the FDA’s Office of In Vitro Diagnostics approaches IVDMIAs, or in vitro diagnostic multivariate index assays.

Genomic Health plans to sell 3 million shares of its common stock through an underwritten public offering, and expects to use the proceeds from the sale for general corporate purposes, marketing, R&D, and expanding its labs.

US Genomics was awarded an $8.6 million SBIR grant from the US Department of Homeland Security to continue work developing a biological sensor to detect airborne pathogens. The company received the one-year, Phase III award through the DHS’s Bioagent Autonomous Networked Detectors program.

Rosetta Genomics named Michael French president of its US business. French previously was a senior vice president at Sirna, and was chief business officer at Entelos.

Effective this month, David Onions will be the new CSO at BioReliance, where he will run the company’s global clinical and preclinical scientific activities. Onions was previously CMO at Invitrogen.

Gene Logic signed a drug-repositioning agreement with Abbott that covers multiple clinical drug candidates that have passed phase I human clinical trials. Gene Logic says it stands to receive milestone payments for each new drug candidate that Abbott re-enters into clinical development, as well as royalties for drug candidates that make it to market.

Commonwealth Biotechnologies has agreed to buy Tripos Discovery Research from Tripos for $350,000 in cash up front and as much as $1.8 million more in follow-up receivables and billings from the business. Commonwealth will continue to operate TDR from its Bude, UK, location.

MDS Pharma Services hired James Pusey as VP and general manager of its global clinical-development business. Pusey was formerly president and CEO of OrthoLogic, executive vice president for neurology at Serono, and vice president of marketing and therapeutics area leader for AstraZeneca.

Accelrys reported cutting its quarterly loss by 84 percent in the fiscal fourth-quarter revenues compared to the previous year. The company’s revenue rose 2 percent as R&D spending fell 22 percent.

Nasdaq dropped Gene Logic from its Biotechnology Index after a semi-annual review of biotechnology companies. Companies listed on the index must maintain a market capitalization value of more than $200 million and an average daily trading volume of at least 100,000 shares, among other criteria.

Martin Gollery is heading back to TimeLogic, where he’ll be a senior bioinformatics scientist. Gollery has been working as associate director of the Center for Bioinformatics at the University of Nevada at Reno since his previous stint at the company.

454 Life Sciences will work with the Malaysian Genomics Resource Center, which will use a GS FLX sequencer in genomics and bioinformatics projects studying tropical diseases and organisms. Efforts include sequencing microbes with biotechnological and medical applications, as well as large-scale characterization of diseases prevalent in Malaysia and the region.

The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University received two research awards totaling $376,000 from the Science Foundation of Arizona to expand a bioinformatics database and to develop genetic imaging technology.

Luminex said first-quarter revenue increased 28 percent as R&D spending rose 23 percent and profit shrank by 75 percent compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Total receipts for the three months ended March 31, 2007, increased to $16.6 million from $13 million.

The US FDA approved Abbott Laboratories’ HIV-1 viral load prognostic test for use on its m2000 RT-PCR platform. The test, designed by Abbott and Celera, measures the levels of HIV circulating in a patient’s bloodstream, including the three common HIV-1 groups and non-B subtypes.


The Scan

Suicidal Ideation-Linked Loci Identified Using Million Veteran Program Data

Researchers in PLOS Genetics identify risk variants within and across ancestry groups with a genome-wide association study involving veterans with or without a history of suicidal ideation.

Algorithm Teases Out Genetic Ancestry in Individuals at Biobank Scale

Researchers develop an algorithm known as Rye to tease apart ancestry fractions in admixed individuals at a biobank-scale, applying it to 488,221 UK Biobank participants in Nucleic Acids Research.

Multi-Ancestry Analysis Highlights Comparable Common Variants at Complex Trait-Linked Loci

Researchers in Nature Genetics examine common variants implicated in more than three dozen conditions, estimating genetic effect similarities across ancestry tracts in admixed individuals.

Sick Newborns Selected for WGS With Automated Pipeline

Researchers successfully prioritized infants with potential Mendelian conditions for whole-genome sequencing or rapid whole-genome sequencing, as they report in Genome Medicine.