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Medco, LabCorp, HTG, Girus Life Sciences, Eppendorf, Bio Nano Center, Arrayjet, Perlegen, Cambridge University

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Medco and LabCorp Will Use AmpliChip to Study PGx of Tamoxifen
 
Pharmacy benefits manager Medco Health Solutions and LabCorp will use Roche’s AmpliChip to study why only some women respond to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, LabCorp and Medco said this week.
 
Terms of the deal call for Medco to use Roche’s AmpliChip CYP450 test to study how tamoxifen is able to treat some forms of breast cancer while preventing the disease in certain high-risk populations. Approximately 10 percent of women using tamoxifen do not fully benefit from the drug because of variations in genes encoding drug metabolizing enzymes.
 
The firms penned their alliance in response to a US Food and Drug Administration recommendation last year that tamoxifen carry a warning label stating that it “may not work as well in postmenopausal women” who have a certain variant of the CYP450 gene family.
 
Medco Chief Medical Officer Robert Epstein said the license with LabCorp is part of a strategy to partner with personalized medicine companies.
 
Myla Lai-Goldman, chief scientific officer and medical director of LabCorp, added that the collaboration “will benefit patients and lower healthcare costs by improving outcomes, enhancing safety and reducing ineffective drug regimens.”
 
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
 

 
High Throughput Genomics Raises $10M in First Tranche of Series C Round
 
High Throughput Genomics has pocketed $10 million in a first tranche of Series C financing, the Tucson, Ariz.-based company said this week.
 
HTG, which provides microplate-based gene expression assay technology and services to drug makers, said it will use the cash to expand research and product development efforts in the areas of molecular diagnostics and proteomics, and to build out its commercialization team.
 
HTG's qNPA technology is used in quantitative, multiplexed, gene-based drug-discovery programs, including target validation, high-throughput screening, lead optimization, metabolism, toxicology, and clinical development.
 
According to the company, its ArrayPlate lysis-only qNPA platform enables scientists to test any sample, including fixed tissues, while avoiding the need for extraction or target amplification.
 
The financing came from three existing investors and one new venture capital investor. Leading the tranche was Solstice Capital, a fellow Tucson company, and included investments from Merck Capital Ventures, Valley Ventures, and Arcturus Capital, a first-time stakeholder in HTG.
 
As part of the deal, Solstice Capital’s managing partner, Harry George, will become HTG’s chairman, HTG said.
 

 
Girus Life Sciences Becomes Eppendorf Service Provider
 
Girus Life Sciences, based in San Jose, Calif., has become a certified service provider for Eppendorf Biochip Systems, Girus said this week.
 
According to Sven Bulow, managing director of Eppendorf, the addition of Girus as a service provider “fills a gap” in the firm’s network of service providers by “offering services for our microarray systems in tandem with its cell culture and stem cell contract research capabilities.”
 
“Because of the increasing importance of the stem cell community and our most recent product launch, the TF Stem Cell Chip for analyzing transcription factor activities in differentiating versus pluripotent cells, the expertise Girus can offer our customers can help us serve these researchers much more successfully,” Bulow said in a statement. Eppendorf released the TF Stem Cell Chip earlier this year (see BAN 7/3/2007).
Financial details of the deal were not discussed.
 

 
UK’s Bio Nano Center Purchases Arrayjet’s Sprint Microarrayer
 
Arrayjet said this week that that the Bio Nano Center, a joint venture of University College London and Imperial College London, has purchased one of its Sprint microarrayers.
 
According to Arrayjet, the BNC will support protein microarraying and precision will enable it to develop multi-scale fabrication technology combining micron-scale patterning with nanolithography techniques.
 
Arrayjet first launched the Sprint, a lower-cost version of its initial Marathon arrayer, in May. Financial details of the BNC agreement were not discussed.
 

 
Perlegen Licenses Breast Cancer Markers from Cambridge University
 
Perlegen Sciences said last week that it has licensed certain breast cancer biomarkers from Cambridge Enterprise Limited, the commercial arm of Cambridge University, and plans to commercialize the markers as a diagnostic test.
 
The agreement stems from a large-scale breast cancer study Perlegen, Cambridge, and Cancer Research UK began in 2005 that genotyped more than 50,000 women.
 
The study, published in Nature in June, identified certain breast cancer susceptibility markers that are present in roughly 20 percent of breast cancer cases in the UK. The company said this compares favorably to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are used as diagnostic markers but occur in less than 5 percent of breast cancer cases.
 
The more common risk alleles identified in the Cambridge study “confer somewhat less overall risk than other described markers,” Perlegen said in a statement, but they double breast cancer risk in cases where there are two copies of the variants versus those with none.
 
Perlegen said it plans to market the diagnostic assay either directly or through a sub-license with a third party, and Cambridge University and partner Cancer Research Technology will receive a share of any financial returns, the company said.
 
Cambridge University reserves the right to provide non-commercial licenses to academic researchers.

The Scan

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