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GeneXP Biosciences, Georgia Tech, Emory University, NIAAA, Queens University, EMD Biosciences


GeneXP Biosciences Secures $2 Million in Financing

Woburn, Mass-based GeneXP Biosciences announced this week a two-stage, $2 million financing placed through Ingalls & Snyder, a New York-based private equity investment fund.

“This is a significant vote of confidence, not just from an investor who is quite savvy, but also from the customer base, because when [investors] did the due diligence on our customer base and our leads and prospects, they felt we met the test for a prospective business,” said Michael Cohen, co-founder and chief operating officer of the company.

The funding, he said, will allow the company to continue to ramp up its commercial operations and add staff. Details of the investment were not provided. The company is backed by funds from a number of prominent Boston-area angel investors led by principal investor Michael Simches, the CFO and, along with Cohen, a general partner of Seed Partners, a Wellesley, Mass.-based early-stage private equity investment firm.

GeneXP conducts industrial-scale high-throughput gene expression analysis. The company said it earned its first outsourced contract for gene-expression services in May, and in July completed a trial project for a unnamed Boston-area pharmaceutical company.


Georgia Tech Scientists Shine Light on Microfluidics

Georgia Tech physicists are using optically-gener-ated thermal gradients to control the flow of small volumes of fluids over solid surfaces, an innovation with potential for microfluidic-based biochip applications. The research was published in the Aug. 1 edition of Physical Review Letters.

The system, developed by Michael Schatz, a Georgia Tech associate professor of physics, and colleagues Roman Grigoriev and Nicholas Garnier, uses lasers or optical systems similar to those used in LCD projectors to produce patterns of varying-intensity light on a flat substrate material, according to a statement. Further, absorption of the light would produce differential heating on the substrate, creating a pattern of thermal gradients. Surface tension would then cause nanoliter volumes of fluid to flow from the cooler areas to warmer areas through thermocapillary action.

The technique could theoretically also use liquid surfaces, where droplets of an immiscible liquid would be moved across a “substrate” fluid by the same surface tension forces. In a liquid-on-liquid system, the underlying fluid would also move, allowing higher flow rates.


Emory Adding Microarray Core

Atlanta’s Emory University will create a microarray core facility as part of a 5-year, $2.6 million NIH grant announced last week.

Hosted in the university’s school of medicine, the Emory Epithelial Pathobiology Research Development Center joins 13 existing research centers designed by the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease. Andrew Neish, assistant professor of pathology, will serve as director of the gene-expression analysis core.


NIAAA Announces Grant for Alcoholism SNPs

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism last week issued a call for proposals for research projects that would identify SNPs associated with alcoholism.

The announcement emphasized the utilization of “advanced technologies such as high-throughput SNP genotyping, haplotype pattern mining, admixture linkage disequilibrium mapping, and DNA pooling for fine mapping” in project applications. The announcement specified DNA and protein microarrays as two techniques that could be used for “fine mapping” of alcoholism genes.


Queens University Microarray Researcher Collects Cancer Grant

Harriet Feilotter, director of the microarray facility of the department of pathology of Queens University, of Kingston, Ontario, received CA$360,175 ($260,957) this week as part of a disbursement of cancer research fund grants from the Ontario, Canada provincial government.

Feilotter is conducting research to identify molecular markers to predict aggressive tumors using microarray analysis.


EMD Biosciences Acquires ProteoPlex

EMD Biosciences, a subsidiary of Merck, announced this week that it has acquired ProteoPlex of St. Louis, a functional-genomics research and development firm.

Financial details were not provided.

ProteoPlex is commercializing the ProteoPlex 16-well multi-cytokine protein array. The kit measures 12 human cytokines in parallel from 16 experimental samples including controls. The 12 analytes measured in the kit are pro- and anti- inflammatory cytokines important for the study of immune system regulation and disease.

The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.