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Bioplex, Illumina, Febit, Tm Bioscience, Dionex


Bioplex licenses Nanocrystal Technology from Indiana University

The nanocrystal quantum dot particles invented by Indiana University professor Shuming Nie have been dazzling attendees at next-generation microarray conferences for some time. Now they have found a home. Pittsburgh, Pa., startup Bioplex, which is being nurtured by incubator LaunchCyte, has obtained an exclusive license to the technology for the synthesis of these optically encoded microbeads and nanobeads for drug discovery, clinical diagnostics, and other human health applications.

Indiana University’s Advanced Research and Technology Institute, which facilitated the transaction, became a founding equity holder in Bioplex in partnership with LaunchCyte.

Nie’s nanocrystals sit in polymer beads with diameters of 0.1 to 10 micrometers each. Different combinations of colors and concentrations give each bead a unique optical signature. The bead is then conjugated to an antibody or nucleic acid probe, and used as an assay for biomolecules. Current studies suggest that 10,000 to 40,000 assays can be conducted simultaneously, with a theoretical limit of 10 billion assays.

“The Indiana University technology provides Bioplex with the power to open a new era in multiplexing,” said Jonathan Kaufman, president and chief science officer of Bioplex. “This permits Bioplex to increase the detection of SNPs, cell surface markers, and other biologically relevant molecules to new orders of magnitude.”


Illumina Expands Oligo Manufacturing Operations, Lowers Price

Illumina of San Diego, which makes the Oligator oligonucleotides, has doubled its capacity to over 1 million oligos per year and has lowered its price from $0.18 to $0.16 per base.

Oligators are a short-term revenue source for Illumina, which also performs genotyping services on its BeadArray fiber-optic based platform.


Febit Introduces Geniom to EMBL Geniuses

Febit of Mannheim, Germany, has placed its geniom one benchtop DNA analysis instrument at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s genomics core facility in Heidelberg in a beta test. The instrument is designed to integrate all of the steps of the microarray process including synthesis of probes, hybrization, and DNA analysis.

EMBL plans to test Febit’s analysis instrument in research projects studying molecular mechanisms of cancer, malaria, and antibiotic resistance, and to train researchers on this technology.

Febit is also beta-testing geniom one at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. The company said it plans to make the instrument available to the first customers in early 2003.


TM Looks to CF Test as Application of Universal Array Technology

Universal array company Tm Bioscience of Toronto, Ontario, has announced plans to launch its cystic fibrosis test on the Luminex xMAP system.

“The American College of Medical Genetics recommends that individuals be tested for 25 different mutations in the cystic fibrosis gene, Roman Zastawny, vice president of product development for Tm Bioscience said in a statement. “Our Universal Array technology allows us to convert the current single-tube tests to an array based technology which will provide results for all 25 mutations quickly and accurately, allowing clinical laboratories to keep up with the ever increasing demand for this test.”

The company said it plans to complete a prototype of the cystic fibrosis test by the first quarter of 2003, to validate it next year with external laboratories, and to commercially launch it by the end of 2003.

Nanogen has also announced plans to launch an array-based cystic fibrosis test on its NanoChip platform.


Dionex invests $3M in PharmaSeq

Dionex, a publicly traded manufacturer of chromatography and extraction systems, has agreed to make a $3 million investment in Monmouth Junction, NJ-based startup PharmaSeq.

Under the agreement, Dionex has rights to negotiate access to PharmaSeq’s technology, which consists of microtransponders that can attach to oligonucleotide probes, and each of which transmits a unique signal. This system is combined with fluorescent hybridization systems. A detector using flow cytometry reads this combination of radio and fluorescent signal to determine the identity of the oligo probe as well as the hybridization. This way, it can quantitate the exact number of hybridizations to each unique probe and provide quantitative gene expression information. The transponders can also be attached to other types of molecules.

The Scan

Study Tracks Off-Target Gene Edits Linked to Epigenetic Features

Using machine learning, researchers characterize in BMC Genomics the potential off-target effects of 19 computed or experimentally determined epigenetic features during CRISPR-Cas9 editing.

Coronary Artery Disease Risk Loci, Candidate Genes Identified in GWAS Meta-Analysis

A GWAS in Nature Genetics of nearly 1.4 million coronary artery disease cases and controls focused in on more than 200 candidate causal genes, including the cell motility-related myosin gene MYO9B.

Multiple Sclerosis Contributors Found in Proteome-Wide Association Study

With a combination of genome-wide association and brain proteome data, researchers in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology tracked down dozens of potential multiple sclerosis risk proteins.

Quality Improvement Study Compares Molecular Tumor Boards, Central Consensus Recommendations

With 50 simulated cancer cases, researchers in JAMA Network Open compared molecular tumor board recommendations with central consensus plans at a dozen centers in Japan.