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Affymetrix, MWG Biotech, Orchid BioSciences, Carsen Group, GeneMachines, Illumina, Institute for Nanotechnology


Affymetrix has founded a wholly-owned Japanese subsidiary that will manage direct sales, marketing, and technical support in Japan beginning next year, the company announced earlier this week.

The new subsidiary will replace a distribution agreement Affymetrix has had with Amersham Biosciences for the Japanese market, though Amersham will continue to offer Affymetrix’s arrays until the end of this year.

Amersham purchased Motorola’s CodeLink array technology last month, and has plans to market this competitive technology worldwide.

So far Affymetrix has sold more than 60 of its GeneChip systems in Japan, which it calls a ”rapidly growing market.” Its Japanese customers include pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions, according to the company.


MWG Biotech Sells Dharmacon Research’s RNA Reagents

Last week, genomic company MWG Biotech of Ebersberg, Germany, said it had entered a sales and distribution agreement with RNA synthesis company Dharmacon Research. Further agreements between the two companies are planned for the future.

Under the agreement, MWG Biotech will sell Dharmacon’s RNA synthesis products, services, and technologies, including Dharmacon’s patented 2’-ACE RNA chemistry.


Orchid BioSciences to Identify WTC victims Using SNP Technology

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City has awarded Orchid BioSciences a contract to do SNP analyses on unidentified DNA samples collected from the World Trade Center site.

In a pilot program conducted with New York City officials, Orchid reseachers demonstrated that panels of SNPs were able to identify victims that could not be identified with other methods.

Orchid Cellmark, the DNA forensic unit of Orchid BioSciences, has drawn on Orchid’s prior work with the SNP Consortium, a public-private partnership to discover SNPs, to develop the SNP panels being used for the World Trade Center project.

The DNA samples provided by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office will be analyzed using these panels and Orchid’s SNPstream UHT, which is capable of analyzing more than 800,000 SNPs per day.


Carsen Group to Distribute GeneMachines’ Microarrayers in Canada

GeneMachines of San Carlos, Calif., has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Toronto-based Carsen Group to market its OmniGrid and OmniAccent microarrayers in Canada.

Carsen Group, a digital microscopy and scientific imaging company, also markets microarray scanners.


Illumina Provides SNP Genotyping to Cambridge, UK

Illumina of San Diego will provide SNP genotyping services to the University of Cambridge on a sample collection from Cambridge’s Institute for Medical Research (CIMR), which houses the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Wellcome Trust-funded Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory (JDRF/WT DIL).

Under the terms of the agreement, Illumina will design functional assays for the SNP loci provided by CIMR, and then use its BeadArray technology to genotype these SNPs in the set of roughly 3000 samples.

Researchers at the JDRF/WT DIL have already contributed to the discovery of three of the genes associated with type 1 diabetes. The institute aims to further understand the functional consequences of disease-associated variants and identify additional genes in the search for therapies.


Nanodetection of DNA

Chad Mirkin and colleagues from the Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., published a paper in last week’s Science entitled ”Nanoparticles with Raman Spectroscopic Fingerprints for DNA and RNA Detection.” The article describes a new method to detect nucleic acids with a lower detection limit of 20 femotomolar.

The scientists functionalized 13 nm gold nanoparticles with oligonucleotides that had been labeled with Raman-active dyes such as Cy3 The gold particles facilitate the formation of a silver coating that acts as a surface-enhanced Raman scattering promoter for the dye-labeled particles that were catpured by target molecules on a microarray. According to the authors, a large number of probes, ”much greater than the number of available and discernable fluorescent dyes,” can be designed based on the concept of using a Raman tag as a narrow-band spectroscopic fingerprint. Also, the sensitivity is ”many orders of magnitude higher” than the analogous fluorescence-based approach.

The Scan

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.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.