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Sigma-Aldrich, ERCC, Integrated DNA Technologies, Affymetrix, Luminex, Exiqon, Promega, BioMerieux

Sigma-Aldrich Signs on Six Academic Institutions to RNAi Program
Sigma-Aldrich last week announced that researchers from six academic institutions have joined its RNAi Partnership Program.
The researchers are from the Wistar Institute, Mayo Clinic, Tufts University, Princeton University, the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Sigma formed its RNAi Partnership Program in April to provide researchers with RNAi tools, including products, new technologies, and reagents, as well as access to Sigma-Aldrich’s functional genomic portfolio.
The portfolio includes access to the lentivirus-based MISSION TRC shRNA libraries that target more than 15,000 human and mouse genes.

Several BCW Index Firms to Act as ERCC RNAi Testing Sites
The External RNA Controls Consortium last week said that eight testing sites have registered for the initial phase of the RNA control testing initiative.
The participants are: Affymetrix, Agilent, Applied Biosystems, GE Healthcare, Illumina, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Qiagen, and Roche Molecular Systems.
The ERCC said it will be accepting applications for other non-manufacturing or non-production sites for control testing in different types of biological samples later this year.
Founded in 2003, the ERCC is an ad hoc group with approximately 200 members from more than 65 private, public, and academic organizations that aims to develop a set of external RNA controls, related protocols, and analysis tools.

Integrated DNA Technologies Acquires Belgian Firm to Bolster RNAi Play
Integrated DNA Technologies said this week that it has acquired RNA-TEC, a Belgian company specializing in the RNAi field, to bolster its own offerings in the field and attain a foothold in Europe.
The RNA-TEC acquisition is aimed at broadening IDT’s capabilities in the large-scale RNA synthesis and purification space, especially with increased demand for scale-up of IDT’s Dicer-Substrate RNAi compounds for large screens and animal studies.
With RNA-TEC, a spin-off company of the University of Leuven, Belgium, IDT can also expand into the European market. IDT plans to update and expand the infrastructure at RNA-TEC’s headquarters.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
IDT inked a deal with Bio-Rad this past summer, under which Bio-Rad will pair its transfection and analytical instruments with IDT's siRNA design and synthesis expertise and deliver to customers validated Dicer-substrate 27-mer small interfering RNA duplexes. Bio-Rad said that it also would experimentally validate IDT's siRNA duplexes in live cells (see BioCommerce Week 7/19/2006).

Affymetrix to Close Massachusetts Facility in Bid to Cut Costs
Affymetrix will shutter its instrument manufacturing and development facility in Bedford, Mass., this winter as part of a broader plan to cut costs, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week.
The move, which Affy “committed to” on Sept. 7, will consolidate the facility's instrument manufacturing operations with the company's probe array-manufacturing space in West Sacramento, Calif.
Bedford’s instrumentation development capabilities, meantime, will be consolidated with Affy’s principal R&D facilities in Santa Clara, Calif.
The restructuring is expected to eliminate or transfer around 80 jobs beginning in the fourth quarter and continuing into the first half of 2007, Affy said in the filing.
Affy said it expects the Bedford facility closure to be “materially completed” by the third quarter next year.
“These actions were approved as part of the company's previously announced efforts to reduce expenses in the general and administrative functions including the rationalization of the company's facilities,” Affy said in the SEC filing.
During Affy’s second-quarter conference call in July, CEO Stephen Fodor said Affy will restructure its “corporate, general, and administrative expenses” after calling 2006 the “single most challenging year” in Affy’s 13-year history, “compounded by increased competition, especially in the genotyping market.”
At the annual Bear Stearns investor conference last week, Affy CFO Greg Schiffman said: “As we have evaluated our facilities on a global basis, we made the decision … to close our Bedford manufacturing facility. It will bring us leverage in R&D, SG&A, and manufacturing."
In last week’s SEC filing, Affy said it expects to incur costs related to the restructuring but was unable to offer details at the time of the filing. The company said it is “currently preparing its analysis of the restructuring costs and expects to complete its analysis before the end of the current fiscal quarter.”

Luminex, Exiqon to Co-Develop microRNA Products
Luminex and Exiqon this week announced that they have signed an agreement to co-develop and commercialize microRNA products for Luminex’s xMAP platform.
Under the terms of the agreement, Exiqon will develop and manufacture microRNA detection chemistries on behalf of the Luminex Bioscience Group.
The final microRNA products will be based on Luminex's xMAP instruments and Exiqon's Locked Nucleic Acid probes, nucleotide analogs that bind to RNA and DNA targets.
“By including LNAs in detection probes, it is possible to design very specific high-affinity detection assays for small RNA targets like miRNAs, which otherwise would not be possible using standard DNA-based detection probes,” the companies said in a statement.

Promega Facility Gets ISO Certification
Promega said last week that its Madison, Wis.-based R&D and manufacturing campus has obtained ISO 13485 certification.
According to Promega, the standard “is recognized as the global quality standard for the development, manufacture, testing and delivery of medical devices.”
Promega has been certified under the ISO'S 9001 standard since 1998, the company said.

BioMerieux Acquires Genotyping Firm Bacterial Barcodes
BioMerieux said this week that it has acquired molecular biotechnology firm Bacterial Barcodes.
Bacterial Barcodes, based in Athens, Ga., has developed and markets DiversiLab, a system for automated microbial genotyping that can be used to track hospital-acquired infections, and for environmental control for product safety. 
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"The addition of [DiversiLab to] bioMerieux's technology portfolio is perfectly aligned with the company's strategic commitment to focus on infectious diseases, as well as on industrial applications,” Eric Bouvier, president and CEO of BioMerieux’s North American operations, said in a statement.

The Scan

Genetic Tests Lead to Potential Prognostic Variants in Dutch Children With Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Researchers in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine found that the presence of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants was linked to increased risk of death and poorer outcomes in children with pediatric dilated cardiomyopathy.

Fragile X Syndrome Mutations Found With Comprehensive Testing Method

Researchers in Clinical Chemistry found fragile X syndrome expansions and other FMR1 mutations with ties to the intellectual disability condition using a long-range PCR and long-read sequencing approach.

Team Presents Strategy for Speedy Species Detection in Metagenomic Sequence Data

A computational approach presented in PLOS Computational Biology produced fewer false-positive species identifications in simulated and authentic metagenomic sequences.

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.