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Luminex, SignalGene, Affymetrix, MetriGenix, Neuralstem

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Luminex Launches Rules-Based Medicine Project As Spin-off Company

Luminex said this week it has officially launched its Rules-Based Medicine project as a new company, with CEO Mark Chandler leaving to become CEO. Thomas Erickson, an interim president, will run Luminex while the company searches for a permanent replacement, the company said.

RBM, created last winter, has been searching for protein blood markers for 55 different diseases states using the xMap bead technology. These markers can then be used to determine an individual’s risk of those diseases.

The company is spinning out the RBM unit in order to re-focus itself as a pure-play technology company. The arrangement also provides a graceful exit for Chandler, who was reportedly more interested in RBM than in the tools business.

By selling its RBM project, Luminex received a $4.4 million equity stake and a 10 percent common-stock interest in the new company. Luminex said it will receive royalties for any products the new firm commercializes using Luminex’s xMap technology, and will supply the company with instruments and reagents, counting as revenue the products it sells to the new company.

The RBM unit is currently based in Luminex’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, but will likely move to a separate space once the business gains traction, Luminex CFO Harris Currie said.

 

SignalGene Plans to Spin off Functional Genomics Unit; Funding from Genome Quebec

Drug discovery company SignalGene of Montreal, said last week that it would spin off its functional genomics unit into a new company.

SignalGene will transfer all of the unit’s tangible assets, as well as intellectual property for its subtractive transcription-based amplification of mRNA (STAR) technology, to the new company in exchange for between CA$3.5 million and $4.5 million (US $2.24 to $2.8 million) of that company’s common shares.

The final value of the consideration will be determined by an independent third party prior to the transaction, which is expected to close in early October. SignalGene acquired the functional genomics unit with its purchase of GeneScape in March 2000.

Genome Quebec, which awarded SignalGene funding for a target discovery program related to women’s health last April, will contribute CA $6.1 million (US $3.9 million) over three years, receiving participating voting preferred shares and warrants of the new company in exchange. The new company’s goal will be to identify new molecular targets and biotherapeutics, initially in the areas of osteoporosis, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.

SignalGene said that it expects to save approximately CA $1.4 million ($896,000) as a result of the spinoff by writing down an as yet undetermined amount of goodwill related to the functional genomics unit. Employees of the unit will transfer into the new company and be granted up to 10 percent ownership, according to SignalGene.

 

Affymetrix Chooses Biotique’s Software for Human Transcriptome Data

Affymetrix has chosen Biotique Systems’ Local Integration System (BLIS) to house data from its human transcriptome project and provide an interface to make it publicly available, the two companies announced last week. Biotique, based in Emeryville, Calif. and founded in 2001, also provides analysis software that allows users to view public gene annotations and probes collated with the novel gene transcript predictions derived from the dataset.

The transcriptome initiative, a collaboration between the National Cancer Institute and Affymetrix, aims to detect all transcriptional activity across the genome, going beyond protein-encoding sequences. Data from chromosomes 21 and 22, originally published in the May 3 issue of Science, is now freely available at www.affymetrix.com/transcriptome/index.affx as well as at www.biotiquesystems.com.

 

MetriGenix and Neuralstem Ready Neurochip

Gene Logic biochip spin-off MetrixGenix and neural stem cell technology firm Neuralstem, both of Gaithersburg, Md., said last week that their research collaboration, started a year ago, is bearing fruit: The companies are planning to launch a neurodegeneration microarray during the fourth quarter of 2002.

The chips’ gene content is based on Neuralstem’s expression analysis of cells from the human central nervous system. It will use MetriGenix’ patented 4D Array System, a honeycomb-like chip in which probes are attached to the insides of microchannels – in order to optimize the surface-area-to-volume ratio – as well as to shorten hybridization times and to increase binding and signal capacity. The content on the chips is derived from Neuralstem’s previously characterized human CNS stem cells, the companies said.

The Scan

Purnell Choppin Dies

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

Effectiveness May Decline, Data From Israel Suggests

The New York Times reports that new Israeli data suggests a decline in Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness against Delta variant infection, though protection against severe disease remains high.

To See Future Risk

Slate looks into the use of polygenic risk scores in embryo screening.

PLOS Papers on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus, Bone Marrow Smear Sequencing, More

In PLOS this week: genomic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, archived bone marrow sequencing, and more.