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CLSI, MetriGenix, GeneXP, Roche, Bioscientia, Siemens, Sequenom, Rockefeller University


CLSI to Release ERCC RNA Sample-Prep Protocols in Q3

The early-access protocols for RNA sample preparation developed by the External RNA Control Consortium will be available from the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute in the third quarter of this year, a CLSI official told BioArray News last week.

Lois Schmidt, the director of standards and development at CLSI, said that the document, entitled, "Use of External RNA Controls in Gene Expression Assays; Proposed Guidelines," will be available for purchase in the third quarter and will cost CLSI members $60, and non-CLSI members $120.

The ERCC is making the protocols available through CSLI so that microarray users that are close to bringing diagnostics through the regulatory process will have something to work from, according to Janet Warrington, vice president of research and development at Affymetrix and head of the consortium of commercial, non-profit, and governmental organizations.

Warrington told BioArray News in May that the final protocols should be available in mid-2006.

MetriGenix Acquires GeneXP

MetriGenix of Toronto said last week that it has acquired GeneXP Biosciences of Woburn, Mass.

Financial and other terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Both firms have been developing gene expression-based biomarkers for different diseases using microarray technology. The acquisition will combine their biomarker development activities "into a single portfolio that can be managed and developed faster and more efficiently," said Michael Cohen, the former president of GeneXP and new CEO of MetriGenix, in a statement.

The combined company will continue to operate in Toronto and Woburn.

Roche Opens its Largest PCR-Manufacturing Facility

Roche opened what it claims to be the largest PCR manufacturing facility in the world last week at the company's property in Branchburg, NJ.

According to Roche, the 285,000-square-foot plant will employ 800 people and will consolidate PCR manufacturing for Roche Molecular Diagnostics and Roche Diagnostics in one location. The facility will handle PCR production for Roche's AmpliChip CYP450 test, the first microarray-based test to receive US Food and Drug Administration approval, as well as other PCR-based tests for HIV, hepatitis, and West Nile virus.

Heino von Prondzynksi, CEO of Roche's Diagnostics division, said that because of "recent PCR-based advancements like the FDA-cleared AmpliChip CYP450 test, it is of utmost importance to have a facility that can respond to the increasing market demand for [Roche's] products."

The new facility is actually the result of a $150 million facelift for an older, smaller building owned by Roche. Construction began in April 2003.

Bioscientia Joins Siemens/Sequenom Partnership

Bioscientia, a reference laboratory based in Germany, will join Siemens Medical Solutions and Sequenom to evaluate Sequenom's MassArray platform for molecular diagnostic applications, Sequenom said last week.

Under the agreement, Sequenom will provide its MassArray Compact platform, consumables, technical support, and assays for specific conditions, including deep vein thrombosis and HIV. With funding and engineering expertise from Siemens, Bioscientia will test the platform in a benchmarking study.

Bioscientia, based in Ingelheim, is the second reference lab after Specialty Laboratories in April to join Siemens' and Sequenom's "working group," which the companies founded in late 2004. The first phase of the program, which will eventually include four laboratories, will be a benchmarking study, to be completed this year, to evaluate the analytical data quality and workflow of the MassArray system.

Rockefeller Donates Record $100M to Rockefeller
University; Genomic Research to Benefit

David Rockefeller, honorary chairman and life trustee of Rockefeller University's board of trustees, has pledged $100 million to the university, the largest gift in its history, the school said last week.

The gift will enable the university to expand its research "in areas such as genomics," as well as stem-cell research, aging, neurology, according to Russell Carson, chairman of the university's board of trustees.

The school will use $30 million of the gift to help support its newly named David Rockefeller Graduate Program. Additionally, $70 million of the gift will go to help the school restore some of its lab buildings and to support research on the North side of the University's campus.

The Scan

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

US Survey Data Suggests Ancestry Testing Leads Way in Awareness, Use of Genetic Testing Awareness

Although roughly three-quarters of surveyed individuals in a Genetics in Medicine study reported awareness of genetic testing, use of such tests was lower and varied with income, ancestry, and disease history.

Coral Genome Leads to Alternative Amino Acid Pathway Found in Other Non-Model Animals

An alternative cysteine biosynthesis pathway unearthed in the Acropora loripes genome subsequently turned up in sequences from non-mammalian, -nematode, or -arthropod animals, researchers report in Science Advances.

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.