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NEW YORK, Oct. 9 – Beleaguered functional genomic firm DNA Sciences intends to partner with Bristol-Myers Squibb to investigate genetic variants within an undisclosed drug-discovery gene target, the companies said on Tuesday. Terms of the deal call for Freemont, Calif.-based DNA Sciences to use its high-throughput sequencing and genotyping facility to study Bristol-Myers’ gene in normal and affected disease populations. The companies will "share potential downstream rights" under the terms of the agreement, a DNA Sciences spokesperson told GenomeWeb. While the companies would not disclose additional terms of the collaboration, DNA Sciences did say that the study would be completed within one year. Both companies plan to use any findings from the collaboration in future research and development activities. The research collaboration marks the "first time [DNA Sciences] is doing research in the Freemont facility using another company’s target genes with DNA Sciences’ patient data sample," a DNA Sciences spokesperson told GenomeWeb, adding that the collaboration reflects the company’s "new focus on applying genetics to drug discovery."This shift in focus follows last month’s announcement by DNA Sciences of the sacking of its chairman and CEO, Hugh Reinhoff, and the company’s plans to lay off roughly half of its workforce. As of today, approximately 45 people have left the company, with the remaining half of the announced lay offs slated to be completed by the end of October, according to DNA Sciences. "The layoffs enable us to apply our resources to the most promising opportunities and to preserve our cash reserves to the end of 2003," said a DNA Sciences spokesperson.

The Scan

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.

Study Explores Animated Digital Message Approach to Communicate Genetic Test Results to Family Members

In the Journal of Genetic Counseling, the approach showed promise in participants presented with a hypothetical scenario related to a familial hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome diagnosis.

Computational Tool Predicts Mammalian Messenger RNA Degradation Rates

A tool called Saluki, trained with mouse and human messenger RNA data, appears to improve mRNA half-life predictions by taking RNA and genetic features into account, a Genome Biology paper reports.

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.