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Osmetech, Qiagen, ExonHit Therapeutics, Xentech, CombiMatrix, Affymetrix, Biotique, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Fluidigm

Osmetech to Run Qiagen Respiratory Test on MDx Platform
Osmetech said this week that it will adapt a Qiagen respiratory viral test for use on its eSensor XT-8 molecular diagnostics system.
Qiagen will supply Osmetech with its QIAplex-based reagents for the multiplex amplification of the most common viruses associated with respiratory infections. UK-based Osmetech said that it will develop an in vitro diagnostic test for use on its array-based platform and submit the test for US Food and Drug Administration clearance. Osmetech won FDA clearance for a warfarin sensitivity test on the XT-8 in July (see BAN 7/22/2008).
Qiagen recently launched its QIAplex-based ResPlex II respiratory panel for research use only. The panel enables detection of up to 17 different viral molecular targets, including influenza A/B and parainfluenza RSV A/B.
“This is an excellent opportunity to take an already commercially successful product into the mainstream diagnostics market,” Osmetech CEO James White said in a statement.

ExonHit to Provide Genomic Services to Xentech
ExonHit Therapeutics said this week that Xentech, a French contract research organization specializing in preclinical evaluation of novel anti-tumor agents, has selected ExonHit to be the exclusive provider of genomic services, including microarray-based gene expression profiling using the company’s SpliceArray technology, in Xentech’s client and internal research projects.
According to John Jaskowiak, executive vice president of molecular diagnostics & genomic services at ExonHit, the Paris-based company looks to complement Xentech’s “expertise with drug efficacy studies using their novel human tumor xenograft models with our gene expression profiling services for the identification of response vs. non-response gene signature biomarkers.”
As a CRO, Xentech offers consulting in preclinical oncology and is expanding its range of tumor models and technologies, such as non-invasive imaging to monitor orthotopic and metastatic tumor growth and ex vivo clonogenic and organotypic drug screening assays.
Financial details were not discussed.

CombiMatrix Could Garner $2M in FY 2009 Defense Funds for Health Surveillance System
CombiMatrix said this week that proposed US military funding for fiscal year 2009 includes $2 million for the company to develop a health surveillance system.
Senator Patty Murray (D – Wash.) included the funding for Mukilteo, Wash.-based CombiMatrix as part of $72 million in federal defense work for Washington companies in the 2009 Defense Appropriations Bill, which passed the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on Sept. 10.
CombiMatrix said it will receive the funding if and when the bill passes, as long as the funds are not struck from the bill beforehand.
The company would use the funding to work with the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop a semiconductor microarray and instrumentation platform to detect changes in body chemistry caused by traumas.
David Danley, director of homeland security and defense programs at CombiMatrix, said in a statement that the company will “further develop its microarray platform technology to provide the military healthcare system with new tools for treating everything from bullet wounds to battlefield stress.”
The funding would enable the firm “to develop new assays on our microarray platform to identify changes in body chemistry and gene expression that are indicative of adverse changes in physiological performance,” Danley added.

Affymetrix to Distribute Biotique's Gene Expression Analysis Software
Affymetrix will distribute Biotique’s gene expression analysis software directly to its microarray customers under a new agreement, Biotique said last week.
Biotique’s XRAY software functions as an add-in for Microsoft Excel, and requires “little or no software specific training” for use, the Reno, Nev.-based company said.
"Customer feedback shows that this is an intuitive and powerful way in which to analyze Affymetrix array data, offering a higher degree of flexibility and ease-of-use,” Greg Fisher, Affymetrix’s associate director of product marketing, said in a statement.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

UT Southwestern Developing New Biotech Center
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is developing a new biotech park on a 13-acre site in Dallas with up to 500,000 square feet of laboratory, office, and research space that also will serve as an incubator for startup biotech and medical device firms.
UT Southwestern said that it would provide tenants of the BioCenter with "privileged access" to several of its core research facilities including DNA and protein sequencing, mass spectrometry, imaging, and microarray analysis. “Such services offer a great advantage because the capital expenses for these capabilities would kill a small company,” Dennis Stone, vice president for technology development at UT Southwestern, said in a statement.
The BioCenter site was purchased for $4.1 million from the city of Dallas. The university said the purchase was funded through profits from its technology transfer program.
In addition, Dallas-based telecommunications firm AT&T is providing $750,000 over five years to the BioCenter to help tenants support training in entrepreneurship as well as job creation, attraction, and retention.
“We’re an untapped resource,” Stone said. “Ninety-five percent of biotechnology companies are founded on university-based inventions, so it makes eminent sense to have the development center in immediate proximity to the scientists who are creating new technologies.”

Fluidigm IPO Delayed
Amid the volatility in the US stock market, the anticipated initial public offering from Fluidigm, which was expected to become effective either Thursday or Friday last week, has been postponed.
The South San Francisco, Calif.-based firm still expects to float at $14 to $16 per share and raise net proceeds of roughly $70.8 million, assuming an offering price of $15 per share. If the underwriters’ over-allotment option is exercised in full, Fluidigm could receive net proceeds of $81.9 million.
The firm initially filed for the IPO in April. Morgan Stanley is the book-running manager for the offering, with UBS, Leerink Swann, and Pacific Growth Equities acting as co-managers.

The Scan

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.

Machine Learning Improves Diagnostic Accuracy of Breast Cancer MRI, Study Shows

Combining machine learning with radiologists' interpretations further increased the diagnostic accuracy of MRIs for breast cancer, a Science Translational Medicine paper finds.

Genome Damage in Neurons Triggers Alzheimer's-Linked Inflammation

Neurons harboring increased DNA double-strand breaks activate microglia to lead to neuroinflammation like that seen in Alzheimer's disease, a new Science Advances study finds.

Long COVID-19 Susceptibility Clues Contained in Blood Plasma Proteome

A longitudinal study in eBioMedicine found weeks-long blood plasma proteome shifts after SARS-CoV-2 infection, along with proteomic signatures that appeared to coincide with long Covid risk.