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A Year Ago: Nov 1, 2002


In GT’s cover story a year ago, we looked at the role genomics was playing in bioterror defense. Since then, funding for genomics defense projects has skyrocketed and looks like it will continue to do so, and research into pathogens stayed front and center. TIGR kept working on the anthrax genome, finding new markers with partner Northern Arizona University that differentiated the various samples sent around the US last October from known strains. Nanogen won a three-year, $1.5 million US Army grant to build biowarfare and infectious disease agent detection devices, while Cepheid joined forces with Northrop Grumman and Environmental Technologies Group to adapt PCR-based pathogen detectors for use by the US Postal Service. In funding, the proposed budget for anti-bioterror research rose to $4.3 billion for 2003 from $3.1 billion this year, and the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases claimed a share for work including genomics-based clinical diagnostics and sequencing six deadly organisms.

Another article in November ’01 checked out the promise of grid computing, which remains a slow-to-take-hold phenomenon. While still wrestling with security concerns, the pharmaceutical industry is getting into grid computing, suggesting that vendors might finally breathe a sigh of relief. As reported in GT’s sister publication BioInform, pharmas participating in some level of grid use include Novartis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, and AstraZeneca. Among the vendors that sell to them: United Devices, Platform Computing, and Avaki.

In other updates, GT last November ran a story on the pink slips given out at DNA Sciences; this year, we check in on the company to see how it’s faring. Another article looked at Michigan-based Streamline Proteomics, which has since changed its name to Verity Biosciences and acquired lab space at Wayne State. We introduced you to the genome-scanning company US Genomics, whose technology has since gained credibility with a $500,000 DARPA grant and Craig Venter’s announcement that he would join the company’s board and hoped to bring its technology to his new sequencing institute.

The Scan

Team Tracks Down Potential Blood Plasma Markers Linked to Heart Failure in Atrial Fibrillation Patients

Researchers in BMC Genomics found 10 differentially expressed proteins or metabolites that marked atrial fibrillation with heart failure cases.

Study Points to Synonymous Mutation Effects on E. Coli Enzyme Activity

Researchers in Nature Chemistry saw signs of enzyme activity shifts in the presence of synonymous mutations in a multiscale modeling analysis of three Escherichia coli genes.

Team Outlines Paternal Sample-Free Single-Gene Approach for Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening

With data for nearly 9,200 pregnant individuals, researchers in Genetics in Medicine demonstrate the feasibility of their carrier screening and reflex single-gene non-invasive prenatal screening approach.

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.