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BioMérieux, ExonHit, ServiceXS, Illumina, Partek, Oligo Factor

BioMérieux, ExonHit Add Prostate Cancer to Dx Development Program
BioMérieux and ExonHit Therapeutics plan to develop a blood-based prostate-cancer screening test aimed at helping doctors weigh the risks of performing surgery to remove tumors, bioMérieux said this month.
Under the collaboration, bioMérieux will use ExonHit’s splice variant technology to develop DNA chips that can detect “several dozens of nucleic acid markers” and use them to find cancer markers in blood.
The recent research pact expands the French companies’ roster of cancers for which the French companies are developing tests. The two companies also are involved in a study for a blood-based breast cancer diagnostic and a similar program to develop a test to detect colorectal cancer. According to Laurent Bracco, executive vice president at ExonHit, the duo will probably expand their research to include other cancers in the future in concordance with a research agreement signed in October 2005 (see BAN 10/19/2005).
“The six-year collaboration between ExonHit and bioMérieux that was initiated in October 2005 calls for a minimum of five programs,” Bracco told BioArray News in an e-mail last week. “Prostate is the third of a minimum of five programs in cancer,” he wrote. “The positive results encountered so far made bioMérieux want to address more clinical diagnostics needs in others cancers. Prostate cancer is a major cancer with still unmet needs in diagnosis and prognosis,” he added.
According to Bracco, ExonHit is the “research arm in this collaboration and will not play a role in the commercialization of these tests,” but will receive royalties once they are commercialized. 
BioMérieux spokesperson Christelle Chabert-Toujas last week declined to estimate when any of the tests could be available. “Our common research programs are still underway,” she wrote in an e-mail to BioArray News. “These tests are still under development.” Chabert-Toujas added that the company would issue public statements when development milestones are reached.
Chabert-Toujas also declined to discuss which microarray platform bioMérieux would use to deploy the tests. In March 2005, the firm signed an agreement with Affymetrix to sell tests for breast cancer using the array vendor’s GeneChip platform (see BAN 4/6/2005).

ServiceXS to Use Illumina Platform for European Melanoma Study
ServiceXS, a genomics and proteomics services firm based in Leiden, the Netherlands, will perform a large-scale genome-wide association study for the European Union’s Melanoma Genetics Consortium, the company said last week.
ServiceXS said it will use Illumina’s arrays, powered by its Infinium multiplex assay technology, to genotype 300,000 tag SNPs in 1,800 subjects for the GenoMEL study.
Candidate SNPs will be validated in a case-control study including 4,000 melanoma cases and 4,000 control individuals, the company said.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

Partek Makes Genomic Suite GeneChip-Compatible for SNP Association Studies
Statistical analysis software company Partek has made its Genomics Suite compatible with the Affymetrix GeneChip platform for SNP association studies, the company said late last week.
Partek’s Genomics Suite imports, analyzes, and visualizes genomic data, and supports single and multiple SNP association tests on allele, genotype, and on dominant/recessive models, the company said.
The St Louis-based company said that Partek GS is now the “first commercially available software tool” to achieve GeneChip-compatible status for gene expression, exon expression, chromosomal copy number analysis, regulation analysis, and SNP analysis.

Oligo Factor Opens Production Facility in Massachusetts
Oligonucleotide synthesis startup Oligo Factor has opened a production facility in Holliston, Mass., the privately funded company said last week.
The company was founded in 2006 and specializes in "medium-scale" synthesis of DNA and RNA — on the order of tens of milligrams to multiple grams of oligos.
According to the company, the benefits of oligo synthesis on this scale are “predictably high quality, excellent yields, and low cost of manufacturing.”
Company co-founder Tim McGrath said in a statement that the company fills a niche between the “high-volume, micro-scale oligo synthesis companies” and the “the pharmaceutical-grade oligo synthesis houses.”

The Scan

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.