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Short Reads/Markers: Mar 1, 2006

Applied Biosystems transferred its 50 percent stake in Celera Diagnostics to Celera Genomics in exchange for considerations that included a cash payout of $30 million. Along with the exchange, ABI won the right to sell instrument platforms to the previously off-limits end-user diagnostic customers, paving its path into the clinical market.

Not to be outdone, Affymetrix announced that it would open a clinical lab business in 2007 in an effort related to growing its molecular diagnostics business. Affymetrix Clinical Laboratories will develop CLIA-certified tests based on the parent company’s array technology.

NIH awarded a five-year grant worth $10 million to the University of California, San Francisco, and SRI International to study the pharmacogenetics of nicotine addiction and treatment. PIs are Huijun Ring at SRI and Neil Benowitz at UCSF.

Trevor Hawkins stepped down as president and CEO of MDS. The company said it did not plan to hire a successor “in the near future.”

Peter Tolias, who helped found the Center for Applied Genomics at the Public Health Research Institute in New Jersey in 2000, recently stepped down from his position as vice president of Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics.

Invitrogen announced plans to develop a line of instruments in a push to expand beyond its current lines of consumables and service offerings. CEO Greg Lucier says one possible start came from the technology acquired in the firm’s purchase of Quantum Dot.

Lee Hood, president of the Institute for Systems Biology, signed a strategic consulting agreement with LabCorp through which Hood will work with the company to develop programs that integrate medicine and molecular diagnostics.

Qiagen acquired Eppendorf’s reagent business, and the companies also formed an alliance to codevelop and comarket life science products for biological sample management and analysis. Financial terms of both deals were not disclosed.

Aaron Geist, previously a director and senior research analyst at Robert W. Baird, was named vice president of business development at PerkinElmer. The company also hired Karl Hecker to be the new director of R&D for its Center of Excellence in Boston.

The University of Missouri’s bioinformatics program received a gift of $1 million from Paul and Dianne Shumaker. The money will help fund a professor of bioinformatics in computer science, a scholarship program, and a bioinformatics lecture series.

Large Scale Biology has shut its doors, faced with delisting from the Nasdaq exchange when the company couldn’t get its share price to top $1. Proteomics subsidiary Predictive Diagnostics was also closed.

Yokogawa Analytical Systems, a gas chromatography-based joint venture of Yokogawa Electric and Agilent Technologies, was slated to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Agilent as of last month. Agilent will pay $98 million for the transaction.

Epigenomics announced that it regained the full rights to a tamoxifen treatment response test from Roche Diagnostics. The tissue-based test was part of a multi-product collaboration between the companies. Epigenomics and Roche will continue to work together in the development of three screening products for colon, prostate, and breast cancers.

Helen Stimson was promoted to the position of vice president and general manager of global consumables for Agilent Technologies. She has worked for Agilent and Hewlett-Packard for the past 24 years.

As part of the ongoing patent-infringement suit between the companies, Stratagene posted a $21 million bond to secure damages awarded to Third Wave, which a recent ruling marked at $15.9 million plus attorney fees. Stratagene plans to appeal the decision.

NCBI’s databases will accept sequence traces generated from 454’s next-generation sequencing platform. The SFF format is the first new trace format adopted by NCBI since the Sanger method.

Robert Mignatti joins Exagen Diagnostics, where he will serve as president and COO.

Thomas Strader, who has held positions at Promega, LabOne, and Gilson, heads to Global GeneTechs as CEO.

Ambit Biosciences welcomed aboard Donald Myll as CFO and senior VP of commercial operations, and Stephen Keane as VP of corporate development.

Oligo provider Integrated DNA Technologies opened a new production center in San Diego and also announced plans to expand its Iowa headquarters. A new facility there will allow the company to add up to 160 employees during the next two years.

Rosetta Biosoftware and Ingenuity Systems will make their systems interoperable for their joint customers in an attempt to make it easier to exchange data between the Rosetta Resolver and the Ingenuity pathways system.

Frank Jellinek Jr., chairman emeritus of Fisher Scientific International, died in January in a plane crash at the McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, Calif. Jellinek was 60 years old.
The Scan

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

US Survey Data Suggests Ancestry Testing Leads Way in Awareness, Use of Genetic Testing Awareness

Although roughly three-quarters of surveyed individuals in a Genetics in Medicine study reported awareness of genetic testing, use of such tests was lower and varied with income, ancestry, and disease history.

Coral Genome Leads to Alternative Amino Acid Pathway Found in Other Non-Model Animals

An alternative cysteine biosynthesis pathway unearthed in the Acropora loripes genome subsequently turned up in sequences from non-mammalian, -nematode, or -arthropod animals, researchers report in Science Advances.

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.