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BioArray Briefs: Dec 23, 2008

Epigenomics, Philips to Collaborate on MDx Platform
Epigenomics last week said that it has signed a collaboration and licensing agreement with Royal Philips Electronics to develop a molecular diagnostics platform for running cancer tests.
The firms will jointly perform feasibility studies aimed at developing a fully automated instrument platform for diagnosing certain cancers based on DNA methylation biomarkers.
As part of the pact, Philips obtained the option to license the technologies and biomarkers separately or in combination for diagnostic applications. The Dutch electronics and medical imaging equipment firm may exercise the option upon successful completion of the feasibility studies, said Epigenomics.
Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Agilent Cut 300 Temp Jobs and 500 Regular Positions in Restructuring Move
Agilent Technologies disclosed in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week that it will undertake a targeted restructuring that will result in the firm cutting 300 positions from its temporary workforce and 500 positions from its regular global workforce.
The firm did not disclose which parts of the company would be affected by the cuts or whether they would specifically target its Bio-Analytical Measurement unit or its Electronic Measurement unit. A spokesperson told BioArray News that he could not provide further detail, but noted that Agilent management has considered its life sciences unit Agilent’s “strongest engine for growth” in the past.
According to Agilent’s filing, “the timing and scope of workforce reductions will vary by location based on local legal requirements.” The firm expects to complete a “majority of the activities related to the restructuring program by May 31, 2009, with the remainder expected to be completed by October 31, 2009.”
Agilent said that it expects the restructuring and job cuts to reduce its annual operating expenses by around $65 million.
In addition to the layoffs, Agilent said that it would implement, as of Jan. 1, a temporary worldwide pay reduction and/or equivalent unpaid time-off program for its employees. The firm expects that effort to yield $100 million in annual savings.
As a result of the restructuring, Agilent said that it expects to record a $55 million pre-tax restructuring charge, primarily related to employee severance arrangements.
Last week, Agilent lowered its revenue and earnings-per-share guidance for its fiscal first quarter of 2009, which ends Jan. 31, 2009.
The firm said that due to “deteriorating economic conditions, particularly in electronic measurement markets,” it was lowering its revenue guidance to a range of between $1.25 billion and $1.3 billion. Last month, Agilent had predicted revenue of between $1.34 billion and $1.39 billion for the first quarter.

SeraCare to Sell RayBiotech Arrays, Kits
SeraCare Life Sciences will sell RayBiotech’s full line of arrays and kits through its global network, SeraCare said last week.
Under the agreement, SeraCare will serve as an agent in selling RayBiotech’s antibody arrays, protein arrays, tissue microarrays, and ELISA and EIA kits.
RayBiotech’s arrays target cytokines, chemokines, growth/angiogenic factors, adipokines, soluble receptors, matrix metalloproteases, and their inhibitors.
SeraCare CEO Susan Vogt said in a statement that the partnership supports the company’s strategy of “expanding our offering of value-added proteomic tools to life sciences researchers around the world.”

Ontario Children’s Hospital Using BioTrove's OpenArray in Pathogen Detection Studies
The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario will collaborate with BioTrove to evaluate the company’s nanofluidic PCR technology for use in detecting and monitoring respiratory infectious disease pathogens in children.
The collaboration will combine BioTrove’s OpenArray with CHEO’s “clinical and molecular biology expertise for rapid, simultaneous identification and quantification of multiple viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens in a clinical specimen,” the company said.
Robert Slinger, who is a medical microbiologist at CHEO, said in a statement that the collaborators intend to design an “all-inclusive assay to rapidly identify and quantify over thirty infectious respiratory viral and bacterial disease targets, potentially enabling physicians to prescribe the right therapies for their patients almost immediately.”
These targets include viral agents such as influenza and emerging pathogens such as MRSA.
BioTrove Chief Technology Officer Colin Brenan said in a statement that the collaborative research could “lead to additional applications for the OpenArray platform, and speaks to the viability and potential of this research system as an applied tool in the clinical laboratory setting.”
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

The Scan

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.