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German Cancer Research Center, Febit, Detroit R&D, Baylor College of Medicine, Illumina, DeCode Genetics

German Cancer Research Center to Use Febit Analyzer for miRNA Studies
The German Cancer Research Center, or DFKZ, will use Febit’s Geniom RT Analyzer for its research into the roles of microRNAs in cancer, Febit said this week.
Heidelberg-based DFKZ will use the Geniom RT analyzer for microarray analysis of miRNA profiles in biological samples.
Febit said the system can be used to fragment and sort large genomes into smaller fractions, which may then be used as samples in mutation analysis and high-throughput sequencing studies.
Febit also said that the analyzer has “a high degree of automation,” it is user-friendly, and it combines hybridization, staining, washing, shaking, and detection into one instrument.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

Detroit R&D Reels in $800K SBIR Grant for Microarray Technology
Detroit R&D has landed an $800,000 grant to continue developing its technology for screening a biomarker for prostate cancer, the company said this week.
Under the two-year Phase II Small Business Innovation Research award, Detroit R&D will pursue research into ELISA and microarray kits to screen non-steroidal inflammatory drug-activated gene, or NAG-1, also known as macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 or prostate-derived factor-15.
The microarray kits will measure levels of mature NAG-1 or H6D polymorphism in serum for early detection of prostate cancer. The kit also will be developed to stage and monitor prostate cancer and treatment.
The company received $1.2 million in SBIR funding in 2003 to develop microarray-based drug screening tools and to support research into biomarkers for fetal alcohol syndrome.

Baylor College to Launch New PGx Chip in 2009
Baylor College of Medicine is planning to launch in January a new pharmacogenomics testing service based on Illumina’s BeadArray platform, according to BioArray News’ sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News.
David Tweardy, interim chair of the Baylor College Department of Medicine, said last week that the service will make use of the so-called Baylor Chip, which is capable of detecting variations in 32 genes, and can be used in pharmacogenomic testing to gauge risk associations in various diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Tweardy made comments at Ohio State University’s Personalized Health Care National Conference in Columbus.
The chip can also be used to conduct HLA-B*5701 testing, which reduces the risk of hypersensitivity reactions in patients taking the HIV drug abacavir, Tweardy said.
Clinical validation of the chip is currently ongoing. “So far, it has been able to detect abnormalities 100 percent of the time,” he noted.
Baylor is planning to launch PGx testing on the chip in January 2009 at its women’s health clinic, with a price tag ranging between $500 and $1,000 per test.
“The price point will be important since initially women will be paying out of pocket for this,” Tweardy said. He added that the chip will be useful in facilitating new research and educational programs at Baylor.

DeCode Genetics Seeks to Sell Non-Core Assets; Shares Plummet
DeCode Genetics said last week that it is conducting a review of its long-term business strategy with a goal of sharpening its business focus and selling non-core assets, among other aims.
The Reykjavik, Iceland-based firm said it has hired the Stanford Group Company to assist it in evaluating strategic alternatives and executing quickly on the results of the review by identifying buyers or partners for its non-core business units, programs, and intellectual property.
DeCode did not say what parts of its business or technologies are considered non-core. The firm has early-stage drug development programs and a portfolio of DNA-based tests for diabetes, cardiovascular, and oncology applications, which it offers through its own CLIA-registered laboratory.
“We are in the process of creating a smaller, leaner DeCode that will devote its efforts and resources to one line of business,” Kari Stefansson, CEO of DeCode, said in a statement. “We have created a unique and growing portfolio of intellectual property, as well as a range of products and programs in both our drug development and diagnostics work, and we are engaged in discussions with potential partners and purchasers for various programs and business units.”
DeCode intends to provide an update on the review during its third-quarter conference call on Nov. 6.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.