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CombiMatrix, Texas A&M Receive $75K Grant from the National Academies

CombiMatrix and Texas A&M University said last week that they have been awarded a $75,000 National Academies Keck Futures Initiative grant to develop a method to increase the speed of hybridization in DNA microarray applications.

The long-term goal of the project is to develop a "simple and low-cost, but highly effective technique to reduce hybridization time and improve signal uniformity across the microarray," according to CMBX and Texas A&M researchers.

"Conventional DNA microarray hybridization relies on diffusion of target DNA to surface-bound probes, and thus is a rate-limited process," Robin Liu, CMBX's microfluidics technology manager, told BioArray News last week.

"As a result, the hybridization step for most conventional DNA chips requires up to 20 hours to complete and this greatly limits the throughput of sample analyses," he explained.

CombiMatrix's technique will be "accomplished by passively establishing a circulatory convective flow field within the hybridization chamber that automatically and continuously transports target biomolecules and reagents to the microarray surface, allowing hybridization kinetics to be accelerated in a format that can be … implemented in virtually any microarray platform," Liu said.

"This technique harnesses buoyancy-driven convective flow fields that naturally arise in the presence of a temperature gradient to accelerate mass transport of target molecules to the array surface resulting in greatly enhanced hybridization efficiency," Liu added

Liu also said that the NAFKI grant was "seed money" that will enable initial studies to obtain data that will serve as the cornerstone for additional funding.

According to Victor Ugaz, assistant professor in Texas A&M's chemical engineering department, Texas A&M will do "the research to characterize the physics of the technique and CombiMatrix will do the corresponding experiments to look at how that influences the hybridization process."

Liu said that CombiMatrix will take Texas A&M's design parameters and evaluate the technique in microarrays.


CombiMatrix Molecular Dx Adds CAP Accreditation to CLIA Certification

CombiMatrix Molecular Diagnostics has been awarded an accreditation by the Commission on Laboratory Accreditation of the College of American Pathologists, the company's parent firm Acacia Research said this week.

The accreditation, which is based on the results of a recent inspection of the CombiMatrix Molecular Diagnostics' laboratory in Irvine, Calif., follows the company receipt of laboratory certification through the federal government's CLIA program in March (see BAN 4/4/2006).


Agilent to Invest $25M in India Through '08; Will Expand R&D Staff, Build New Facility

Agilent Technologies plans to invest $25 million in India over the next two years, CEO Bill Sullivan said last week, according to a news report.

Sullivan also said Agilent will build a new campus in the country by 2008, and plans to hire an additional 800 staffers at its facility in Gurgaon, located outside New Delhi. Most of these hires will be in R&D; the facility currently employs around 200 R&D staffers, Reuters reported last week from New Delhi.

Sullivan, who spoke to reporters at a press conference in that city, also said he expects revenue generated in the country to triple in two-three years, according to Reuters. Agilent's India operations generated $100 million in 2005, which represented a 30-percent improvement over 2004, the report said.

Agilent did not return an e-mail seeking comment on the investment by press time.


GE Healthcare's Q1 Revenues Climb 10 Percent as Profit Grows 21 Percent

GE Healthcare's revenues for the first quarter of 2006 climbed 10 percent, and the segment's earnings increased 21 percent, General Electric reported last week.

For the quarter ending March 31, GE Healthcare had $3.7 billion in revenues, up from $3.3 billion during the same quarter in 2005.

GE Healthcare's earnings for the quarter amounted to $496 million, up from $409 million in the first quarter of 2005.

General Electric's total revenues for the quarter were $23.5 billion, up from $21.4 billion during the same period last year. The company reported $4.3 billion, or $.41 per share, in total earnings for the quarter, up from $4 billion, or $.37 per share, during the same quarter in 2005.

GE Healthcare did not break out its research and development expenses for the quarter.

As of March 31, GE had $53.6 billion in cash and marketable securities.


Biacore Says Q1 2006 Sales Exceeded Expectations

Biacore said last week that sales for the first quarter of 2006 were "better than current market expectations."

Biacore, based in Uppsala, Sweden, said that its Q1 sales increased by 19 percent over the same period in 2005. The company had previously anticipated a slowdown in revenues in the early part of 2006 following a record 23-percent increase in year-over-year sales in Q4 2005.

At the time, Biacore said it expected 2006 sales to increase "at approximately the same rate as in 2005 with modest growth in the first quarter."

Further details were not disclosed. Biacore will release its full earnings report on May 4.


WVU Picks up $300K Affy System; Work on Diabetes, Stroke, Brain Disorders Planned

The University of West Virginia has invested $300,000 to procure a microarray platform from Affymetrix, according to a news report.

The Dominion Post in Morgantown, W.Va., reported last week that WVU recently purchased the system with the intent of studying diabetes, stroke, and brain disorders. The equipment was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the WVU Health Sciences Strategic Research Plan, and private donations to the WVU Eye Institute, the report stated.

Sepideh Zareparsi, an assistant professor at the WVU Eye Institute, said she will use the platform to research diabetic retinopathy, which is known to cause blindness.

The Scan

Driving Malaria-Carrying Mosquitoes Down

Researchers from the UK and Italy have tested a gene drive for mosquitoes to limit the spread of malaria, NPR reports.

Office Space to Lab Space

The New York Times writes that some empty office spaces are transforming into lab spaces.

Prion Pause to Investigate

Science reports that a moratorium on prion research has been imposed at French public research institutions.

Genome Research Papers on Gut Microbe Antibiotic Response, Single-Cell RNA-Seq Clues to Metabolism, More

In Genome Research this week: gut microbial response to antibiotic treatment, approach to gauge metabolic features from single-cell RNA sequencing, and more.