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NIST, NIH, German Resource Center for Genome Research, Shanghai Genomics, GNI, Cortex


NIST Says Microarray Vendors are Behind
Nascent Gene Expression Standards Effort

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is making progress in its effort to create a consortium that could aid in standardizing gene expression measurements, a NIST official told BioArray News last week.

Marc Salit, a research chemist at NIST, said that agency representatives sat down with six "major" microarray manufacturers in Boulder, Colo., last month to "investigate ways of working together to explore issues of common interest.

During a presentation at Cambridge Healthtech Institute's Beyond Genome conference held in San Francisco last week, Salit told attendees that "a number of [manufacturers] have given a verbal commitment to join this consortium," which NIST is calling the Consortium for Gene Expression Metrology.

NIST kicked off the initiative last fall, pledging $6.25 million over the next five years to "improve the quality, reliability and comparability of gene expression measurements with microarrays."

Salit in a later interview stressed that no agreements have been signed, the parties are in very preliminary discussions, and "at this point [NIST] is just investigating to see if [a consortium] makes sense." He declined to name the six manufacturers.

NIST is involved in a number of efforts to encourage standardization in the genomics space. The organization is also hosting the External RNA Controls Consortium, although Salit said that, if formed, the new consortium would be restricted to microarray manufacturers and government agencies, while the ERCC is an ad-hoc organization with open membership.

NIH Awards Four Microarray Centers
$25M for Neuroscience Research

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a consortium of four microarray core facilities a total of $25 million over five years to support gene expression analysis as part of the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint.

The centers in the NIH Neuroscience Microarray Consortium are located at the University of California at Los Angeles, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, Yale University, and Duke University. Each center provides access to different array platforms.

The Microarray Consortium supports around 10,000 investigators, according to a statement issued by TGen. It was initially funded in 2002 with $9 million from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Mental Health. The new award is supported by these two institutes as well as thirteen other NIH Neuroscience Blueprint institutes.

The consortium worked with 5 AM Solutions, a software company based in Phoenix, Ariz., to create a central database for the data it is generating. Further information about the consortium is available here.

RZPD Adds NimbleGen Array
CGH Service to Offerings

The German Resource Center for Genome Research, RZPD, has added NimbleGen's array comparative genomic hybridization service to its offerings, the Berlin-based organization said this week.

Initially, RZPD will offer NimbleGen's whole-human-genome array CGH, followed by a number of whole-genome arrays that are in development for model organisms.

RZPD has been NimbleGen Systems' exclusive distributor in Germany and Austria since last fall.

China's Shanghai Genomics Merges with
Japan's GNI; Combined Firm Raises $13M

Japan's Gene Networks International (GNI) said last week that it has merged with China's Shanghai Genomics.

GNI said that it concurrently raised a private equity round of financing of more than $13M led by Nomura, Healthcare Partners, and several other US and Japanese private equity firms.

GNI uses gene regulatory network maps and systems pharmacology techniques to develop therapeutic pharmaceutical products internally and in partnerships with other pharmaceutical firms. The company, which has offices in Japan, the UK, and the US, said that it will benefit from Shanghai Genomics' "Western-quality discovery research, preclinical development, and contract research services to facilitate cost-efficient drug development, faster revenue generation and, ultimately, profitability for the united company."

The combined company will have a research staff of more than 80 employees in Japan, China, and the UK, and several drug candidates in clinical and pre-clinical development, GNI said.

Italy's Bouty to Distribute Cortex
Biochem's Nucleic Acid Isolation Kits

Cortex Biochem, a provider of magnetic particle-based reagents, said last week that Bouty of Milan, Italy, will exclusively market its MagaZorb nucleic acid isolation kits and associated reagents in Italy.

The agreement is effective as of January, and allows Bouty and Bouty's Technogenetics biotech subsidiary to distribute the products.

"We are confident that this is the ideal partnership to firmly establish our technology in the European market," said Matt Pourfarzaneh, president and CEO of Cortex, in a statement.

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.