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Short Reads/Markers: Jun 1, 2004


A jury in a US District Court decided in Applera’s favor in patent-infringement charges (related to thermal cyclers) brought by Applera and Roche Molecular Systems against competitor MJ Research. The jury awarded damages between $17.8 million and $19.8 million — the exact amount to be determined later in the multi-phase, and still ongoing, lawsuit. MJ Research, which filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year, asserts that it will dispute the charges again in the next phase of the suit, which is expected to start next month.

The Mayo Clinic launched a genomics program aimed at uncovering the genes relating to alcoholism and other chemical addictions in a $20 million, five-year effort. The institute received more than $12 million to start the program and must find the remaining funds to continue the work.

The Max Planck Society of Germany will open a joint lab in conjunction with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research in the latter country. The goal is to build a cancer-focused database of cell lines and tumor tissues and to perform functional studies of related genes.

RNAi company Sirna Therapeutics, based in Boulder, Colo., pulled in $18.7 million in its recently completed financing round.

Following on earlier criticism from AAAS, FASEB is urging members to oppose the FY 2005 budget proposals passed by Congress, both of which undercut President George Bush’s suggested 2.6 percent increase for NIH by more than $1 billion.

NIEHS expanded its relationship with Paradigm Genetics to include toxicogenomics research using RNAi technology. Paradigm will work with the Translational Genomics Research Institute to create an siRNA library targeted at human response to environmental toxins.

Columbus, Ohio-based functional genomics firm Phylogeny won a $1.1 million grant from its state to continue development of tissue arrays, which contain up to 1,000 tissue samples each.

US Genomics scored a year-and-a-half long, $7.5 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security to develop a technology that would detect and identify airborne pathogens based on the company’s DNA mapping platform.

The National Center for Genome Resources wins $1.2 million from the USDA to develop the Legume Information System, a Web resource that would combine data and analysis software for the study of legumes. NCGR has already dedicated two years to the project, and the continued USDA support is expected to provide for more functionality.

Genomes in the wild: DOE’s Joint Genome Institute published the 30 Mb sequence of Phanerochaete chrysosporium, or white rot fungus. The research team used shotgun sequencing and identified nearly 12,000 genes in the organism, which may have bioremediation and industrial uses for pulp and paper. Meantime, a network of scientists across some 20 labs in Brazil finished mapping part of the genome of Coffea arabica, a strain of coffee.

Caliper Life Sciences, the conglomeration of Caliper and Zymark, acquires from Amphora a technology for cell-based screening assays. Caliper intends to use the tool to develop a new assay to study G-protein coupled receptor drug targets.

Using microarray analysis, Stanford researchers have completed a study identifying more than 130 genes as potentially implicated in adult acute myeloid leukemia. Gene expression patterns, researchers posit, could help doctors filter out which patients need aggressive treatment from those who don''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''t.

After its merger with Genesoft Pharmaceuticals, Genome Therapeutics changes its name to Oscient Pharmaceuticals to showcase its shifted focus on drug development.

NCI awarded a $2 million grant to Incogen for further research in diagnostics using mass spec data in screening for cancer.

The Scan

Long COVID-19 Susceptibility Clues Contained in Blood Plasma Proteome

A longitudinal study in eBioMedicine found weeks-long blood plasma proteome shifts after SARS-CoV-2 infection, along with proteomic signatures that appeared to coincide with long Covid risk.

Tibetan Study Finds Adaptive Variant Influencing Skin Pigmentation

With a combination of phenotyping and genetic data, researchers document at PNAS a Tibetan-enriched enhancer variant influencing melanin synthesis and ultraviolet light response.

Domestication Linked to Nervous System Genes in Inbred Mouse Strains

Researchers highlighted more than 300 positively selected genes in domesticated mice, including genes linked to nervous system function or behavior in Genome Biology.

ALS Genetic Testing May Be Informative Across Age Ranges, Study Finds

Researchers in the journal Brain identified clinically actionable variants in a significant subset of older ALS patients, prompting them to point to the potential benefits of broader test use.