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University of Ottawa, Affymetrix, GeneMachines, Sequenom, Xeotron, Michigan State University, The Roskamp Institute, Cepheid, Applied Biosystems, NuGEN Technologies, Genome Institute of Singapore

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Going Public With Genomics in Canada

Craig Venter and Francis Collins were to be the star attractions of an unusual public conference genomics held earlier this week in Ottawa, Canada’s capital.

Presented at the University of Ottawa Wednesday, the “Minds That Matter” conference was one in a series of public symposia on genomics given throughout Canada — in St. John’s, Halifax, Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Montreal, Hamilton, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Participants included Sydney Brenner, a Nobel medical laureate this year, and James Watson, co-winner, of course, of the 1953 Nobel Prize for the description of DNA’s double helix structure. Sir John Sulston of the Sanger Institute joined this year’s Gairdner Award winners — Philip Green, Robert Waterston and Maynard Olson of the University of Washington, Michael Waterman of the University of Southern California, and Jean Weissenbach of Genoscope — in presenting lectures. The Gairdner Award, with a $30,000 cash prize, is given annually in the field of medical research.

The lectures were sponsored by Genome Canada, an agency with a $300 million budget of government funds to establish Genome Centers across Canada, as well as the Gairdner Foundation, the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Health Research Institute. The public conferences were a lead-in to the start of the International Genome Symposium and the final public lecture, on Oct. 25, given by Eric Lander of the Whitehead Institute.

 

Affymetrix Signs Schering-Plough Research Institute to Sales Agreement

Santa Clara, Calif., based microarray manufacturer Affymetrix earlier this week announced that the Schering-Plough Research Institute of New Jersey has signed an EasyAccess Silver agreement to purchase Affymetrix standard and custom GeneChip brand products.

 

Trust Us, Profits Up: GeneMachines

In the midst of earnings season this week, arraying instrument maker GeneMachines of San Carlos, Calif., sent out a press release announcing third quarter earnings. Earnings up 21 percent and operating expenses down 36 percent. No other information was provided, and the privately-held company did not return calls for explanation. Private companies are not held to the same federally-mandated standards of accounting that public companies are held to and do not have to offer any proof or balance sheets to verify claims. The company laid off 20 employees in June as revenues slowed.

 

Sequenom Sells Two Additional MassArray Systems to GlaxoSmithKline

Sequenom last week announced the sale of two MassArray systems to GlaxoSmithKline. The sales follow the initial purchase of this system by GSK earlier this year as part of a collaborative project that generated a database of SNP assays.

 

Xeotron and Michigan State University Will Develop Environmental Testing Bioarrays

Houston-based Xeotron last week announced a collaborative research agreement with Michigan State University to study microorganisms in the environment.

The Michigan State Center for Microbial Ecology will use Xeotron’s microfluidic XeoChip platform to identify genetic alterations that microorganisms create in bioremediation projects and to ad in the identification of microbial species in the environment.

 

$5.85 Million for Microarrays To Study Gene Expression in Drug Use, Addiction

The Roskamp Institute and James A. Haley Veterans Administration Hospital Team of Tampa, Fla., last week announced a $5.85 million grant from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s research unit, the Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center (CTAC).

The funds will be used to purchase gene chip and protein analysis technology, the institute said in a statement released last week.

The two will conduct a five-year study that will first seek to identify markers in the blood that indicate recent drug use and second, determine which genes are expressed after exposure and correlating that information with addiction.

The Roskamp Institute is a state approved, basic science research facility housed at the University of South Florida and includes affiliated laboratories at the James A. Haley VA Hospital.

 

Cepheid and Applied Biosystems to Develop Reagents for Biodetection

Cepheid and Applera’s Applied Biosystems Group said last week that they will collaborate to develop and sell reagents designed to detect biothreat agents to use with Cepheid’s GeneXpert system and cartridges.

Product applications will be directed to the biological detection system being developed by a consortium led by Northrop Grumman for possible use in United States Postal Service mail sorting facilities.

 

NuGEN Technologies and Genome Institute of Singapore in Collaboration

NuGEN technologies of San Carlos, Calif., and the Genome Institute of Singapore will collaborate on amplification and labeling technology for gene-expression profiling on GIS’s custom-made oligonucleotide microarrays, the companies said last week.

The Singapore institute will use NuGEN’s Ribo-SPIA (Single Primer Isothermal Amplification) application, a tool that enables gene expression profiling from very small RNA samples, in its discovery research programs.

The GIS is a major facility comprising core technology platforms including microarrays, high-throughput sequencing and SNP analysis, proteomics, and bioinformatics. These resources will be used to bridge basic and clinical research through genomics and proteomics technologies.

As a center for genomic discovery, the GIS will pursue the integration of technology, genetics and biology towards the goal of individualized medicine.

The Scan

US Supports Patent Waivers

NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

Two studies find the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be effective against viral variants, and Moderna reports on booster shots to combat variants.

CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.