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Short Reads: Sep 30, 2007


Scientists used a metagenomic analysis to suggest that a virus might be responsible for the colony collapse disorder that’s caused massive, unexplained deaths of honeybee colonies in recent years. Researchers involved in the study hailed from the US Department of Agriculture, Columbia University, the University of Arizona, Penn State University, and 454 Life Sciences. The findings indicated a link to the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus.

NHGRI funded two Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science, one at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the other a renewal of an existing center at Stanford. Total award for the five-year grants came to approximately $30 million. Marc Vidal will direct the new center at Dana-Farber, while David Kingsley heads up the Stanford CEGS. The DFCI team will collaborate with researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Notre Dame.

Celera announced that it would acquire Berkeley HeartLab for approximately $195 million in cash. BHL is a cardiovascular healthcare company with a broad portfolio of CLIA certified tests and disease management services focused on the secondary prevention market. The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of Celera’s fiscal 2008.

NIH’s Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative announced its first awards. The program will support eight genome-wide association studies, two genotyping centers, and one coordinating center (in addition to 34 projects through its Exposure Biology Program, listed on p. 40). The first institutions to receive funding are: Johns Hopkins University, Washington University School of Medicine, the University of Texas Health Science Center, National Cancer Institute, Harvard School of Public Health, Northwestern University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Iowa, Broad Institute, and the University of Washington.

VisEn Medical, a company working with fluorescence in vivo imaging, named Tarif Awad director of external scientific collaborations. Awad joins VisEn from Affymetrix, where he was senior manager of pharmaceutical and industrial collaborations.

Following a full year of community consultation, the National Institutes of Health issued its final policy on sharing data obtained from NIH-funded genome-wide association studies. Among other requirements, the policy recommends that researchers deposit GWAS datasets in the Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes, or dbGaP, at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which includes layers of data security to ensure privacy.

A US district court dismissed Enzo Biochem’s patent infringement suit against Applied Biosystems by granting ABI’s motion for a summary judgment. In the lawsuit, filed in 2004, Enzo and co-plaintiff Yale University alleged that ABI infringes six patents covering methods for modifying, preparing, and labeling nucleotides. In response to the dismissal, Enzo said it has already filed a notice of appeal with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The Allen Institute for Brain Science announced the formation of a new scientific advisory board. Members include David Anderson and Christof Koch at Caltech; Thomas Daniel and Phyllis Wise from the University of Washington; Harvard’s Catherine Dulac; Steven Paul of Lilly; Michael Stryker at the University of California, San Francisco; Joseph Takahashi at Northwestern; and Genentech’s Marc Tessier-Lavigne.

Applera signed an agreement to acquire $600 million in Applied Biosystems common stock from investment bank Morgan Stanley. The accelerated purchase is part of Applera’s previously announced plans to buy back $1.2 billion worth of ABI shares over the next four to six quarters.

BioImagene, a provider of image informatics solutions for digital pathology, announced that Bikash Sabata was named chief technology officer and that Mike Cusack is the vice president of marketing.

Entelos acquired toxigenomics firm Iconix Biosciences in an all-share transaction initially valued at $14.1 million but with the potential of rising to $39 million if certain milestones are achieved within one year following the close of the deal. Jim Neal, CEO of Iconix, will join Entelos as chief business officer.

Agendia said it raised €25 million in a fourth financing round. Bank-insurer ING becomes a shareholder, though Agendia did not disclose the amount it invested. Also participating in the round were current investors Van Herk Biotech, Gilde Healthcare Partners, and Gobal Life Science Ventures.

Bar Harbor BioTechnology won a development award of $334,632 from the Maine Technology Institute to help the company develop human genetic profiling products. Bar Harbor BioTechnology was founded in September 2006 by scientists from Jackson Laboratories in Maine with the goal of building gene detection arrays as well as bioinformatics resources and tools for molecular profiling.

The National Library of Medicine awarded a $5.2 million grant to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to extend its Computation and Informatics in Biology and Medicine Training Program for five years.

Optical mapping firm OpGen closed a funding round worth $23.6 million. Investors included CHL Medical Partners, Highland Capital Partners, Versant Ventures, and Mason Wells.

The Scan

Genetic Testing Approach Explores Origins of Blastocyst Aneuploidy

Investigators in AJHG distinguish between aneuploidy events related to meiotic missegregation in haploid cells and those involving post-zygotic mitotic errors and mosaicism.

Study Looks at Parent Uncertainties After Children's Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Diagnoses

A qualitative study in EJHG looks at personal, practical, scientific, and existential uncertainties in parents as their children go through SCID diagnoses, treatment, and post-treatment stages.

Antimicrobial Resistance Study Highlights Key Protein Domains

By screening diverse versions of an outer membrane porin protein in Vibrio cholerae, researchers in PLOS Genetics flagged protein domain regions influencing antimicrobial resistance.

Latent HIV Found in White Blood Cells of Individuals on Long-Term Treatments

Researchers in Nature Microbiology find HIV genetic material in monocyte white blood cells and in macrophages that differentiated from them in individuals on HIV-suppressive treatment.