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Short Reads: Sep 30, 2009

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PerkinElmer has acquired two separate companies: SYM-BIO Lifescience in China for $63.7 million in cash; and Surendra Genetic Labs in India for an undisclosed amount. The acquisitions are expected to help PerkinElmer expand its diagnostics and genetic screening businesses.

The EU has granted €11.3 million to support an international genomics research project to identify the genetic and environmental causes of asthma. The studies will be coordinated by Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine at Imperial College, London in a research program called GABRIEL.

Stephen Minger joined GE Healthcare's Life Science business as head of R&D for Cell Technologies. He was previously at King's College London, where he was director of the Stem Cell Biology Laboratory.

Complete Genomics announced that it had sequenced and analyzed 14 human genomes for customers since it began a limited trial launch in March. The company said customers include Pfizer; Duke University; the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology; the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research; the Institute for Systems Biology; and the Broad Institute, among others.

Thermo Fisher Scientific has agreed to buy German diagnostics firm Brahms for €330 million in a deal that will complement its immuno-assay test portfolio and expand its reagent manufacturing capabilities in Europe. Brahms' flagship product is the procalcitonin biomarker for diagnosis and treatment of sepsis.

The UK's Human Genetics Commission released a set of principles for direct-to-consumer genetic testing, focused on the information and counseling consumers are provided before and after taking tests and on privacy considerations. They apply to all aspects of the industry, including marketing and advertising, consumer consent, lab analysis, and support for consumers.

Lab901, a Scottish DNA analysis firm, received £2.4 million in equity funding from a group of UK investors. The company expects to use the money to expand international sales of its ScreenTape analysis platform, which replaces manual analysis of proteins, DNA, and RNA, and to continue to develop its products.

Cell Biosciences signed an agreement to acquire Alpha Innotech for approximately $17.9 million in cash. The acquisition will give the company additional protein analysis business.

Stephen Davis will be chair of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Davis was recruited to Maryland from Vanderbilt University, where he spent 20 years and was director of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism and also director of the General Clinical Research Center.

Helicos BioSciences hired investment bank Thomas Weisel to help evaluate strategic alternatives, such as financings, joint ventures, or partnerships. In other news, the company announced that it had sold four of its sequencing systems to RIKEN.

Harvard Bioscience will buy Denville Scientific, a private molecular biology company focused on liquid handling items and based in New Jersey, for around $23 million.

Researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center published a proof-of-principle study indicating that micro-RNAs in the blood can be used as biomarkers for pancreatic cancer. The team studied four miRNAs in particular, finding that all of them were elevated in blood samples from individuals with pancreatic cancer.

Advanced Cell Diagnostics raised $5.4 million in a series A financing, which it says will be used to develop diagnostic tests based on its RNAscope technology.

The National Cancer Institute's Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology named Caterina Lasome as chief of its informatics branch. Lasome is a retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel who has been chief of healthcare informatics and inpatient requirements for the Military Health System and chair of the NATO Chiefs of the Military Medical Services Medical Communications and Information Systems.

Luminex announced that it has received US Food and Drug Administration clearance for its second-generation cystic fibrosis test, which looks at 39 CF-causing gene mutations and is used to screen potential parents to determine if they are carriers of the mutations.

Mario Caccamo has joined the Genome Analysis Centre to lead its bioinformatics division. Prior to this, he was at the European Bioinformatics Institute, where he worked on the European Genome-Phenome Archive.

Researchers at the Broad Institute and the UK's Sainsbury Laboratory led an international effort to sequence the 240 million base genome of Phytophthora infestans, the pathogenic water mold behind Ireland's 19th century potato famine. The study of what was once thought to be a fungus was published in Nature.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.