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Sigma-Aldrich, European Collection of Cell Cultures, PerkinElmer, Merck, Odyssey Thera, NIH, NSF, Institute of Systems Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute

Sigma in Collaboration to Provide Control Population DNA

The Sigma division of Sigma-Aldrich and the European Collection of Cell Cultures this week announced a collaboration to provide researchers with control populations of human genomic DNA for gene regulation and quantitative PCR research.

The product, Human Random Control DNA samples, is extracted from lymphoblastoid cell lines derived by Epstein Barr Virus and represents a control population of 480 blood donors from Great Britain. The HRC DNA Panels can be used as reference standards as routine quality control in the laboratory.

Additionally, Sigma-Aldrich last week also announced a doint development collaboration wth Chlorogen of Creve Coeur, Mo.

Chlorogen is developing a technology to utilize tobacco plants for bioproduction of proteins.

Financial details were not disclosed for either deal.

PerkinElmer Cuts 35 Jobs

PerkinElmer recently laid off about 35 employees from its Torrance, Calif.-based facility.

“As part of a previously announced closure plan, and overall strategic/operational plan to form an automation and liquid handling center of excellence for its life and analytical sciences segment, PerkinElmer has completed the transfer of its Torrance ... operations to its Downers Grove, [Ill.],” Dan Sutherby, vice president of investor relations and communications, told BCW’s sister publication, GenomeWeb News, in an e-mail.

“This will enable a more focused approach towards developing market-driven and integrated liquid handling, sample preparation, and automation solutions for customers in the pharmaceutical, biotech, and academic research markets,” he added.

Merck and Odyssey Thera Expand Agreement

Odyssey Thera of San Ramon, Calif., last week said it has expanded an agreement with Merck to use the company’s protein-fragment complementation assay process to characterize the on-pathway and off-pathway effects of compounds early in the drug discovery process.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

NIH, NSF to Convene Convergence Conference

The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation on Friday announced a conference that will bring together federal agencies to discusss issues surrounding the convergence of life sciences and physical sciences research practices that are seen as keys to developing systems biology methods of investigation.

The conference, “Research at the Interface of the Life and Physical Sciences: Bridging the Sciences,” is scheduled for Nov. 9 on the main campus of the NIH in Bethesda, Md.

The objectives of the conference are to identify opportunities, grand challenges, and issues at the interface of the life and physical sciences that could result in major advances and to develop approaches for bridging these traditionally separate fields, NIH said in a statement.

Systems Biology on Agenda for Hawaii Bioscience Conference Slated For January

Leroy Hood of the Institute of Systems Biology, David Baltimore of Caltech, Douglas Lauffenburger of MIT, and Marc Kirschner of Harvard will speak on systems biology at the first Hawaii Bioscience Conference, which is slated for Jan. 12-14 to mark the opening of the University of Hawaii’s new John A. Burns medical school campus in Kakaako.

Other speakers include Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Ed Liu of Singapore’s Genome Institute.

Other topcs on the conference include: infectious disease, genomics, and bioinformatics.

Baylor College Wins $4.5M from NIH to Study Genetics of Epilepsy

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have received $4.5 million from the NIH to study the genetics of epilepsy, Baylor College said last month.

The scientists, led by Jeffrey Noebels, plan to profile the sequences of 250 ion channel genes in patients with various forms of epilepsy in order to find mutations that contribute to the disease. The “Human Channelopathy Project” involves researchers at the departments of neurology as well as molecular and human genetics, and the Human Genome Center at Baylor.

Mutations in ion channel genes underlie a number of neurological disorders, for example epilepsy, episodic movement disorders, and cardiac arrhythmias. The study will focus on sporadic cases, where no family history is known.

DoD Awards $4.9M to Virginia Bioinformatics Institute for PathPort Project

The Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech University said this week that it has received an additional $4.9 million from the US Department of Defense towards further development of PathPort, an informatics tool for gathering and analyzing information about pathogenic organisms.

PathPort is an interoperability framework that provides access to biological characterizations of known pathogens.

The Scan

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.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.