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Arrayjet, SonoPlot, GeneXP Biosciences, Aclara, Genentech, Althea, University of Minnesota


Scottish Microarray Robotics Firm Gets $1.6M Funding

Arrayjet, a Dalkeith, Scotland-based microarray robotics firm, has secured £1 million ($1.6 million) in funding, the company announced last week.

Created by Howard Manning, a Cambridge physicist, and University of Edinburgh molecular biologists Peter Ghazal and Douglas Roy in 2000, the company will take £500,000 ($802,000) from the Scottish investment group, Archangels Informal Investments; £400,000 ($642,000) from the Scottish Enterprises Investment Fund, and a £100,000 ($160,000) loan guarantee from the Bank of Scotland.

The equity funding will be made in two tranches, with the second contingent on achieving technical and commercial milestones.

The company is collaborating with the University of Edinburgh's Scottish Center for Genomic Technology and Informatics to apply standard ink-jet print heads to the manufacturing of microarrays. The firm is beginning testing of its prototype robot at GTI.


Microarray Plan Takes Second In University of Wisconsin Competition

SonoPlot, a business plan for the manufacture of DNA and protein microarrays, earned $7,000 and second place in the G. Steven Burrill technology business plan competition at the University of Wisconsin last week.

The plan was put together by Vivek Dubey, a second-year MBA student, and Brad Larson, a PhD student in materials science in the College of Engineering.

The $10,000 first place prize went for a plan commercializing a process for creating electricity from hydrogen created from biomass waste products.

Steven Burrill, the CEO of Burrill & Co., a San Francisco boutique investment bank that specializes in biotechnology, sponsored the competition.


GeneXP Biosciences Seeks $1.9M Private Placement

GeneXP Biosciences of Wellesley Hills, Mass., is seeking to raise $1.9 million through a private placement of Series A preferred stock, according to SEC documents. The company, which is developing microarray technology, has already raised $560,500 from 17 investors.

The company's scientific team includes: Karen Woodard, director of business development and senior scientist, who was former senior scientist at PerkinElmer; Karen Rose, director of operations and formerly microarray production manger at AlphaGene; and David Englert, former director of applied research at PE Packard. Pal Davis, co-founder and executive chairman, is the general partner of Seed Partners.

The company is providing service for high-throughput gene expression profiling on microtiter plate formats, as well as sample prep, hybridization, scanning, and data analysis.


Aclara and Genentech Expand eTag Collaboration

Aclara BioSciences of Mountain View, Calif., said last week that it is expanding its eTag assay collaboration with Genentech.

The expansion of a collaboration initiated in 2002 includes additional milestone fees payable by Genentech. Further financial details were not provided.

Aclara said the expansion follows the successful achievement of an initial milestone, the design of a customized eTag essay to measure specific receptor binding and signaling. The eTag system uses Aclara's eTag reporters for multiplex gene or protein analysis in a single sample.

Last week, Aclara announced 30 additional worker layoffs to the 50 workers fired in a restructuring that began in July. The company also hired a new chief business officer, and appointed a new member to its board of directors.


Althea Wins $100,000 SBIR for New Gene Expression Technology

Althea Technologies said this week that it has received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health, via the National Cancer Institute, to develop a new high-throughput approach to gene expression analysis for cancer.

The $100,000 SBIR project, entitled “Development of a Multiplexed Gene Expression Screen,” is based on integrating multiplexed RT-PCR with microarray analysis.

According to the company, this approach can provide a cost per data point as low as one or a few cents per gene.


University of Minnesota Christens Microbial and Plant Genomics Center

The University of Minnesota opened the Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics, a $20 million, 64,000-square-foot facility that the university said is the first building dedicated to microbial and plant genomics research at a public research university.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.