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HandyLab, Hitachi, Illumina, Nanosphere, Takara Bio, ViaLogy, Graffinity, BioDiscovery


Michigan Microfluidics Startup Gets $5.5M in Funding

Microfluidics startup HandyLab of Ann Arbor, Mich., has completed a $5.5 million Series B private equity fundraising round, the company said.

Investors included Ardesta, EDF Ventures, Wolverine Venture Fund, and XR Ventures, which together also invested $2.5 million in HandyLab’s Series A round. Two new investors included Hewlett-Packard and SBV Venture partners.

HandyLab technology is a desktop-phone-sized tool for pathogen detection that uses amplification-based assays such as PCR and RT-PCR and integrates sample preparation, assays and detection in a single cartridge. According to Sundaresh Brahmsandra, the company’s co-founder and vice president for product development, the microfluidics technology can currently accommodate 10-15 parallel assays. The technology is currently entering pre-clinical trials, the company told HP also plans to create a PDA that will drive and control HandyLab’s diagnostic cartridge.

HandyLab employs 19 full-time and 10 part-time people and plans to expand its staff by about 12 people before the end of the year. The company said it plans to open offices in Buffalo, NY, and in Berkeley, Calif.


Hitachi Selects Agilent’s Arrays for Japanese Service

Hitachi Life Science of Japan will use Agilent Technologies’ microarrays and equipment in a new contract research service for Japanese pharmaceutical companies it planned to open by the end of July. The service will use Agilent’s catalog microarrays for human, mouse, and rat, as well as customized arrays. Until now, Hitachi has relied upon its own in-house microarrays for its research. Agilent sells its life science solution products in Japan through its subsidiary, Yokogawa Analytical Systems, based in Tokyo.


Illumina Provides SNP services for Sanger Institute

Illumina of San Diego, Calif., will provide SNP genotyping services for the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute on an extensive SNP collection supplied by the institute. The study is designed to provide a detailed haplotype map of a chromosomal DNA region and provide a strategy to build a haplotype map of the entire human genome. Under the terms of the agreement, Illumina will develop assays for the SNP collection provided by the Sanger Institute, and use its BeadArray technology to genotype specified SNPs in the sample set. This genotyping study succeeds a pilot study that Illumina began for the Sanger Institute in late 2001.

Illumina also has genotyping agreements with a number of other public and private institutions, including the Ernest Gallo Clinic & Research Center, GlaxoSmithKline, Placer (Biotech), the University of North Carolina, University of California San Diego, Boston University Medical Center, and Johns Hopkins University Institute of Genetic Medicine.


Takara Bio to Market Nanosphere’s Products in Asia and Europe

Nanoparticle startup Nanosphere, of Northbrook, Ill., and Takara Bio of Otsu, Japan, a biotechnology subsidiary of Takara Holdings, have announced that they are forming a development and distribution alliance to market some of Nanosphere’s products in Asia and Europe.

The two companies will also develop portable detection systems that combine Nanosphere’s nanoparticle DNA probe technology with Takara’s ICAN isothermal gene amplification technology. Moreover, Takara will be making an equity investment in Nanosphere. Nanosphere’s technology utilizes nanoparticle probes and biomolecular detection systems for nucleic acid and protein identification, and was described in the February 22, 2002 issue of Science.


ViaLogy Develops Signal Processing Technology Using Intel’s Itanium 2 Chip

ViaLogy of Pasadena, Calif., a subsidiary of ViaSpace Technologies, has developed an active signal processing technology called Quantum Resonance Interferometry that may increase the detection sensitivity in DNA microarray and other biochip experiments.

The technology allows users to detect signals up to 10,000 times below background noise, the company claims. ViaLogy used Intel’s Itanium 2 processor in its research, receiving early Itanium 2 production systems.

ViaLogy is developing an enterprise version of its Quantum Resonance Interferometry technology based on the Itanium 2 processor for drug discovery companies so they can address large datasets.


Graffinity Studies Lilly’s Drug Targets With Chemical Microarrays

Adding to its roster of research collaborations, chemical genomics company Graffinity of Heidelberg, Germany, has entered a partnership with Eli Lilly to use its microarray platform to identify small molecule compounds that bind to therapeutic targets provided by Lilly.

“The partnership has the potential to generate long-term value for Graffinity,” said Victor Matassa, Graffinity’s vice president of research and development.

Graffinity’s platform combines chemical microarrays with drug fragment libraries and label-free detection of compound-protein interactions.

The company’s other collaborators include Pfizer, Aventis Pharma, Boehringer Ingelheim, Celera Genomics, Merck, and Structural GenomiX.


BioDiscovery Sells ImaGene Through Sigma-Genosys

Microarray software developer BioDiscovery, of Marina Del Rey, Calif., has reached a resale agreement with Sigma-Genosys, a subsidiary of Sigma-Aldrich.

Under the agreement, Sigma-Genosys will distribute a version of ImaGene, BioDiscovery’s software for image analysis of microarrays. The Sigma-Genosys version of ImaGene will include templates for all Sigma-Genosys arrays, which aid in the image analysis of the quantified signal.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.