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Genomic Solutions, BioMicro & Silico

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Genomic Solutions to Review Andersen as Accountant

 Genomic Solutions, the Ann Arbor, Mich., arraying equipment maker, is reviewing whether to continue to employ embattled audit firm Arthur Anderson as its accountant, said Steven Richvalsky, Genomic Solutions’ chief financial officer.

During the first two weeks of April, Genomic Solutions is putting in circulation its annual shareholder proxy, which includes a question giving shareholders a choice about whether Andersen should be retained or another firm should be hired. “This is an annual process, but it definitely also requires consideration based on [current events],” Richvalsky said.

Arthur Andersen was indicted last week by a US federal grand jury in connection with the scandal surrounding the failed energy giant Enron, for one felony count of obstruction of justice. Since Andersen’s troubles have been made public, the firm has lost over 40 clients. Most companies in the biochip arena use other auditors, with Affymetrix, Illumina, Luminex, and Lynx being audited in past years by Ernst & Young, while Agilent and Ciphergen have used PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has said that while Andersen has given assurances that it will continue to comply with generally accepted auditing standards, that companies whose audits Andersen completes after March 14, 2002, “must obtain from Andersen certain representations concerning audit quality controls, including representations regarding the continuity of Andersen personnel working on the audit, the availability of national office consultation, and the availability of personnel at foreign affiliates of Andersen to conduct relevant portions of the audit.

“So long as Andersen continues to be in a position to provide those assurances, the Commission will continue to accept financial statements audited by Andersen in filings,” the SEC said.

If a company decides to terminate its relationship with Andersen while its audit is in process, the SEC has said that it “will accept filings that include unaudited financial statements from any issuer unable to provide timely audited financial statements because of the cessation of its audit relationship with Andersen.” These companies will have to file an amended audited statement within 60 days.

Additional, updated information is available at www.sec.gov.

BioMicro Adds to Microarray Platform Evaluators

BioMicro of Sandy, Utah, has added Chiron, the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center, and UCLA Human Genetics to its list of evaluators for its Microarray User Interface (MAUI) microfluidic microarrays.

The company also said this week it planned to release the MAUI arrays midyear through a technology access program, prior to a commercial release in 2003.

BioMicro’s arrays apply its patented technique of controlling fluid through microchannels using passive valves. Each MAUI chip is said to be disposable, can fit atop most standard microscope slide arrays, and costs about $50. The current platform is manual, but BioMicro intends to develop an automated version that would allow the manipulation of multiple samples of reagents.

The company’s other evaluators include the National Cancer Institute, Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the Buck Institute for Age Research.

Silico Insights, University of Utah in Melanoma Collaboration

Silico Insights of Woburn, Mass., and the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah have launched a joint program to probe differential gene expression in melanoma and other cancers, the partners said last week.

The Huntsman Cancer Institute will provide the company with microarray data, and Silico Insights will use its gene identification and analysis technology to analyze gene activity and protein characteristics in order to develop a reliable system to distinguish between benign, pre-cancerous, and malignant tissues.

This project will build upon research done on families with a high incidence of this deadly skin cancer at the institute’s Tom C. Mathews Jr. Familial Melanoma Research Clinic.

As part of this collaboration, Silico Insights will also conduct proteomic studies of the Huntsman Cancer Institute samples in order to investigate post-translational modifications. The two partners envision that this combined data will allow them to identify relevant biological targets in melanoma, jointly evaluate the research, and work to develop an early-detection mechanism for the disease.

The collaboration may be extended to other types of cancer.

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.