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Bioarray Briefs: Feb 22, 2002

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DARPA Conference to Attract Scientists to Defense Research

 

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the US Special Operations Command are holding a conference March 11 through 13, “Scientists Helping America.” The conference is designed to enable American scientists to learn about areas where they can be of assistance, including bioengineering and chemical/biological defense.

Although registration for the conference is now closed, the agencies are planning to make the results of the conference, including abstracts from presentations, available on the DARPA website, www.darpa.mil, according to a DARPA spokesperson.

Recently, a number of US companies in the biochip sector, including Agilent, Orchid, and most recently Xanthon of Research Triangle Park, NC, have received multi-million dollar grants under DARPA programs to develop biochip-based gene synthesis technologies. The agency’s current solicitations for proposals can be found in the link for the office of special technology.

Overall, DARPA’s budget has been slated for an increase, from 2.3 billion in 2002 to 2.7 billion in fiscal year 2003.

 

Korean Genome Center Creates Korean Stomach Tissue DNA Chip

 

The Korean Center for Functional Analysis of the Human Genome has produced a DNA chip specialized for genes derived from stomach tissues of Koreans, according to a story in a Korean newspaper last week.

The chip includes 14,000 genes derived both from stomach cancer cells and normal tissue.

The genome center has previously identified 670 genes related to stomach and liver cancer, relying on commercially available chips with genetic data derived from other ethnic groups.

According to the Korean Herald, the nation’s Ministry of Science and Technology claimed that this is the first DNA chip specialized for a particular ethnic group. The ministry is making the chip available to Korean researchers next month.

However, Toshiba has also said it is developing a Hepatitis C semiconductor-based SNP chip to detect SNPs associated with Hepatitis C that are common in the Japanese population.

Stomach cancer is much more common in Japan and eastern Asia than in the US and Europe. Rates of stomach cancer among people of Korean or Japanese ethnicity in the US are three to five times higher than they are for Caucasians in America, Native Americans, or Filipinos.

 

Genomic Solutions’ Weak Q4 Revenues, Losses Indicate It’s Still in a Slump

 

Troubled arraying equipment maker Genomic Solutions posted slumping fourth-quarter revenues atop a wider loss last week, following its acquisition of arraying equipment maker Cartesian Technologies.

The Ann Arbor, Mich., company’s revenues for the quarter totalled $4.4 million compared with $5.5 million for the year-ago quarter. Total revenue in fiscal 2001 was $17 million, down from $19 million in 2000.

R&D spending in the quarter also fell, to $1.4 million from $1.5 million last year while its $8.6 million in restructuring costs made up the brunt of Genomic Solutions'' expenses for the quarter. In September, the company laid off 25 percent of its workforce and closed a manufacturing plant.

Net loss for the fourth quarter totalled $12.3 million in 2001 compared with $1.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2000. Genomic Solutions had $13.1 million in the bank at the end of the quarter.

This is the third straight quarter of downward turning revenues for the company. While executives blamed its third-quarter slump on the September 11th terrorist attacks, there was no excuse this time. Still, they optimistically projected $30 million in revenues for 2002.

"While 2001 did not meet our financial expectations, we made significant strides toward profitability and implementation of our business plan with our cost reduction initiatives and our acquisition of Cartesian Technologies," said Jeffrey Williams, CEO and president of Genomic Solutions.

Looking ahead, the company said that revenue "will exceed $30 million." million, which well from $19 million in 2000.

Genomic Solutions earlier projected 40 to 50 percent revenue growth for the third and fourth quarter over 2000.

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