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Short Reads: Jun 29, 2007

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The Joint Genome Institute plans to use the Community Sequencing Program in 2008 to focus its sequencing efforts on new plant and microbial targets that may be of use in developing alternative energies. JGI’s sequencing targets next year were chosen from 120 submissions and include the eucalyptus tree, foxtail millet, red algae, and novel microbial communities.

Patrice Milos, formerly executive director of global R&D at Pfizer, has joined next-gen sequencing company Helicos BioSciences as chief scientific officer and vice president.

DNA testing company Sorenson Genomics acquired Identigene, a forensic and paternity DNA services shop. Salt Lake City-based Sorenson says Identigene will retain its name and Houston location.

Health Evolution Partners, a private equity group based in San Francisco, announced plans to invest as much as $700 million in new health-care initiatives that will include funding for predictive genomics, as well as other high-tech health-care programs such as telemedicine and chronic care improvement.

Medical Solutions plans to buy Geneservice, a 2005 spinout of the UK’s Medical Research Council, for £3.9 million. Geneservice provides genomic services, such as qPCR, to academic and corporate clients.

The US Departments of Energy and Agriculture awarded $8.3 million to fund 11 research projects to use genomics and proteomics technology to study certain plant species for their ability to develop biofuels. Beginning this year, the DOE will put up $5.5 million for seven projects, and the USDA will funnel $1.5 million into three projects. Recipients include Virginia Polytechnic Institute, University of Delaware, University of Florida, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, among others.

Stephen Wong has been chosen as director of the bioinformatics program at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Tex. Wong, who was previously at the Harvard Center of Neurodegeneration and Repair at Harvard Medical School, will also serve as chief of medical physics and vice chair of the department of radiology at Methodist.

Third Wave Japan, a subsidiary of Third Wave Technologies, has raised roughly $5.3 million in a stock placement. Third Wave Japan sold 7,112 shares of common stock to Mitsubishi, Shimadzu, CSK Institute for Sustainability, Daiichi Pure Chemicals, BML, and Toppan Printing.

Applied Biosystems’ parent company sued Stratagene in the Netherlands and France for allegedly infringing an ABI patent. Applera wants the courts to bar Stratagene from selling related products in the Netherlands, France, and other European nations.

Bioinformatics company CLC Bio has joined a Danish-led team of researchers that plans to use $1.8 million in a four-year study to learn more about the genetics of bacteria in order to improve probiotic foods.

NextBio received $7 million in a Series B round of venture capital financing led by Newbury Ventures. Newbury’s senior managing director Bruce Bauer will join NextBio’s board.

The National Institutes of Health plans to pump $30 million into its Roadmap initiative in fiscal 2008 to advance and assess several new ‘omics areas. The NIH has not asked for more money to fund the new programs, and has not determined how it plans to break down the funding for these projects.

DeltaDot and Integrated Technologies received a £465,000 grant from the South East England Development Agency to develop a new tool that will use protein folding structures to help speed drug development. The system, called the Osprey Biomolecule Stability Analyzer, is a microfluidic instrument that uses DeltaDot’s Label Free Intrinsic Imaging to characterize protein properties.

Acacia Research and CombiMatrix got the green light from the Securities and Exchange Commission to go their separate ways. On Aug. 15, the companies expect to split; their stock symbols will now be ACTG and CBMX, respectively.

The US Department of Defense has terminated a pathogen-identification technology contract with Applied Biosystems because the company and the US Air Force could not agree on the best route for commercializing  the product. The DOD awarded ABI a $24.5 million contract last August to develop a prototype system that would identify infectious diseases for epidemiological and biosecurity purposes.

NHGRI announced the publication of results from its ENCODE Project, which appeared in a June issue of Nature, along with nearly 30 companion papers in Genome Research. The ENCODE consortium consists of 35 groups from 80 organizations around the world. In the papers, they include significant findings in gene transcription and regulation, chromatin and replication, and evolutionary constraint.

Nanogen received an undisclosed amount of funding from several Canadian government agencies to help develop diagnostics that would detect natural or bioterror threats to livestock. Under the agreement, Nanogen will use its multiplexing array platform to develop diagnostics for diseases such as avian flu, foot-and-mouth disease, and other pathogens. One of the funding agencies is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; the project was approved by Defense Research and Development Canada.

Synthetic Genomics has formed a long-term research and development partnership with petroleum firm BP to identify alternative energy sources from subsurface hydrocarbons. BP made an undisclosed equity investment in the privately held biotech, and the companies intend to jointly commercialize technologies developed under the partnership.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has received a $4.5 million endowment to establish a lab that will conduct genomic and proteomic studies of multiple myeloma. The money will fund a mass spec lab to analyze proteins produced by myeloma tumor cells and bone marrow cells.

The National Center for Research Resources has spent more than $7 million to help six US academic centers buy high-end instruments, including mass spectrometers and sequencers for genomics proteomics research. Those investing in mass specs include Johns Hopkins University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Colorado. The University of Connecticut will get an NMR, Yale will buy DNA sequencing/ genotyping technologies, and the University of Washington will get an ENDOR spectrometer.

Researchers at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the Joint Genome Institute sequenced the genome of the marine bacterium Salinispora tropica, which may produce cancer-fighting compounds.

The Scan

Driving Malaria-Carrying Mosquitoes Down

Researchers from the UK and Italy have tested a gene drive for mosquitoes to limit the spread of malaria, NPR reports.

Office Space to Lab Space

The New York Times writes that some empty office spaces are transforming into lab spaces.

Prion Pause to Investigate

Science reports that a moratorium on prion research has been imposed at French public research institutions.

Genome Research Papers on Gut Microbe Antibiotic Response, Single-Cell RNA-Seq Clues to Metabolism, More

In Genome Research this week: gut microbial response to antibiotic treatment, approach to gauge metabolic features from single-cell RNA sequencing, and more.