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South Korea’s NIH and CDC, Affymetrix, Agilent Technologies, Signature Genomic Laboratories, 23andMe, Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center, Witec, Fluidigm, Tecan

South Korea's NIH Expands Human Disease Study with Affy Microarray Buy
South Korea’s National Institute of Health and Center for Disease Control and Prevention plans to use Affymetrix’s Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0 as it expands the Korean Association Resource project (KARE), which is focused on discovering genes that are associated with lifestyle-related complex disorders, Affy said this week.
The KARE project initially bought Affy’s SNP Array 5.0 in July 2007, in order to generate genotypes from 10,000 human samples. The expanded program aims to analyze 13,000 additional samples and to validate earlier findings, the company said (see BAN 6/12/2007).
The Affy microarrays will be run by DNA Link, which is an Affy-certified service provider in Korea, and they will be supplied by SeouLin Bioscience, which also will provide technical support for the KARE project.
“Once we have validated our initial results with the SNP Array 6.0, we can use these samples as a common control set to help inspire additional research projects,” said Jong-Young Lee, who is chief of the Korean NIH’s Division of Structural and Functional Genomics.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

Agilent, Signature Genomic Ink Oligo Microarray Supply Agreement
Agilent Technologies will supply microarrays to Signature Genomic Laboratories and its customers under a new long-term agreement, Signature said last week.
Under the agreement, Agilent will supply Signature and customers using the SignatureChip Oligo Solution with its custom oligonucleotide microarrays, the Spokane, Wash.-based company said.
The SignatureChip OS is used in detecting chromosome abnormalities in individuals with mental retardation/developmental delay, autism, and congenital abnormalities.
The company said the agreement also allows users of its Genoglyphix software to use the oligo arrays in their research applications.
Signature offers its microarray-based cytogenetic diagnostic and chromosome analysis products to clinical geneticists, neurologists, pediatricians, and other physicians and researchers.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

23andMe Inks Collaboration with Parkinson's Institute
Consumer genomics firm 23andMe said last week that it will collaborate with the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center in an effort aimed at advancing methods for clinical and epidemiological research into Parkinson’s disease.
Under the collaboration, which is receiving financial support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, patients of the Parkinson’s Institute will voluntarily enroll in 23andMe’s Personal Genome Service. 23andMe anticipates that the DNA submitted for genomic scanning will generate more than 580,000 data points per patient.
In addition, patients will provide specific information about individual environmental exposures, family history, disease progression, and treatment response.
23andMe and the institute will develop web-based clinical assessment tools that can be administered to online communities, they said in a joint statement. Patients’ risk factors and clinical data will be merged with their genetic data to conduct research into Parkinson’s disease.
The partners also said that they will develop and administer new surveys to an increasing number of participants, which will generate new risk-factor and clinical data for comparison with the existing genetic data.
"By building a social network for the Parkinson's disease community, and combining it with the world-class expertise of Parkinson's Institute researchers, we hope to establish an entirely new paradigm for how genetic research is conducted that actively involves the patient,” Linda Avey, co-founder of 23andMe, said in a statement.

Witec to Sell Fluidigm's Microfluidic Circuits in Switzerland
Swiss company Witec will exclusively distribute Fluidigm’s Integrated Fluidic Circuit system to life sciences research customers in Switzerland, Fluidigm said last week.
Fluidigm’s BioMark System uses integrated fluidic circuits with a matrix of channels, valves, and chambers on a silicone chip to conduct over two thousand experiments at one time, the South San Francisco, Calif.-based company said.
Fluidigm’s fluidic systems have not been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration for diagnostic use and are sold only for research purposes, the firm noted.

Tecan Starts Additional Share Buyback Program
On the heels of a just-completed share repurchase program, Tecan has initiated another stock buyback program on the SWX Swiss Exchange.
The company said last week that it has completed its share repurchase program on the “first trading line,” which began Jan. 9, 2007, on the SWX Swiss Exchange. During that program, the firm bought 627,287 shares, or 5.2 percent of its share capital.
Tecan said it now owns 1,045,310 shares, or 8.65 percent of its share capital.
The laboratory instrument firm will now embark on a second buyback program on a "second trading line," after which the shares will be cancelled and the share capital will be reduced accordingly. It said the program is limited to a maximum of 10 percent of the firm’s share capital.
Thomas Bachmann, CEO of Tecan, said that fiscal year 2007, “with the marked increase in profitability and our strong cash position put us in a position that allows us to pay back excess cash to our shareholders.”

The Scan

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.

US Survey Data Suggests Ancestry Testing Leads Way in Awareness, Use of Genetic Testing Awareness

Although roughly three-quarters of surveyed individuals in a Genetics in Medicine study reported awareness of genetic testing, use of such tests was lower and varied with income, ancestry, and disease history.

Coral Genome Leads to Alternative Amino Acid Pathway Found in Other Non-Model Animals

An alternative cysteine biosynthesis pathway unearthed in the Acropora loripes genome subsequently turned up in sequences from non-mammalian, -nematode, or -arthropod animals, researchers report in Science Advances.

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.