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Rise of the CRO

More and more drugmakers are outsourcing their drug trials to contract research organizations, says Pharmalot's Ed Silverman. So it should come as no surprise that CROs are the latest sector to see some large acquisitions and interest from investors. One reason, Silverman says, is that drug prices are rising, and both drugmakers and biotechs are projecting 3.6 percent to 8 percent growth, on average, in their R&D budgets on average, according to a survey conducted by Eric Coldwell, a RW Baird analyst. "Meanwhile, the 388 drugmakers and biotechs that were surveyed also reported that that CRO clients expect a 9 percent increase in the R&D budget that is outsourced, with total market penetration by CROs increasing from 35 percent last year to 38 percent in 2011," Silverman says. "Among large drugmakers, 27 percent expect to outsource, while 47 percent of the smallest companies expect to do likewise." The survey found that CROs are mostly busy conducting oncology trials. And, Silverman adds, as most CROs are privately-owned, they offer publicly-traded companies a break from the "microscopic scrutiny" of the public.

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.