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In Brief This Week: Illumina, Inherent Biosciences, Caris Life Sciences, and More

NEW YORK – Illumina said this week it recorded $92 million in SG&A expenses in 2020 related to continuation advances and a reverse termination fee paid to Pacific Biosciences after Illumina abandoned its acquisition bid. PacBio announced last week it would need to repay $132 million to Illumina following the issuance and sale of $900 million in convertible senior notes to SoftBank subsidiary. 

In Illumina's annual report filed Feb. 16 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said the repayments "meet the definition of derivative assets and are recorded at fair value. The $92 million difference between the $132 million in cash paid during Q1 2020 for the continuation advances and reverse termination fee and the $40 million fair value of these derivative assets on the payment dates was recorded as selling, general and administrative expenses in 2020… Changes in the fair value of the derivative assets are included in other income, net, and totaled $25 million in unrealized losses in 2020."


Salt Lake City-based molecular diagnostics company Inherent Biosciences this week announced it has closed a seed funding round for an undisclosed amount to launch a male infertility diagnostic to guide infertility treatment. The seed round was led by Morning Star Foundation with additional participation from MedMountain Ventures, Kickstart Funds, Park City Angels, Rhythm VC, and unnamed angel investors. The company's technology platform combines artificial intelligence and machine learning with epigenetics, and its test pipeline includes epigenetic biomarkers to predict autism in offspring, treatment response for autoimmune disease, and COVID-19 severity and treatment response.

In connection with the funding round, Inherent named former Epigenesys CEO Lewis Rumpler as its executive chairman of the board; Saumitra Thakur of MedMountain Ventures, David Shriner of Morning Star Foundation, and Tia Newcomer (independent) as directors; and Tom Simpson of Kick Start Funds as a board observer. Inherent also named Doug Carrell, Paul Turek, and Larry Lipshultz as clinical advisors.


Caris Life Sciences said this week that the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has joined Caris Precision Oncology Alliance. The Alliance is a collaborative network of cancer centers that are working to advance comprehensive cancer profiling and establish standards for molecular testing in oncology through research focused on predictive and prognostic markers that improve clinical outcomes for patients.

At Dana-Farber, the alliance will operate from the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology. The network currently includes more than 45 cancer centers and academic institutions, which have early access to Caris’ database and artificial intelligence platform, as well as the Caris CODEai data solution, which has cancer treatment information and clinical outcomes data for more than 215,000 patients.


The LUNGevity Foundation said this week that it is launching a campaign to improve access to genomic testing in non-small cell lung cancer. The campaign, called No One Missed, is financially supported by LUNGevity's pharmaceutical partners and members, AstraZeneca, Genentech, Amgen, and Daiichi Sankyo. The goal of the campaign is to empower patients to request comprehensive biomarker testing at the time of NSCLC diagnosis, recurrence, or progression. To accomplish this, the foundation will introduce patients to what it is calling a "lung cancer patient's bill of rights" listing the types of information that patients have the right to understand and access with respect to biomarker testing and using these test results to guide treatment. In launching the campaign, LUNGevity has cited a key statistic — current as of 2019 — that says only 22 percent of eligible patients with advanced NSCLC were tested for the biomarkers associated with approved targeted therapies at the time.


Biodesix this week announced a partnership with Chicago Public Schools to provide antigen and Bio-Rad Laboratories' Droplet Digital PCR testing for teachers and staff in the school system. The testing program launched in January and is a surveillance testing protocol using antigen tests to monitor asymptomatic employees who may have the coronavirus, followed by ddPCR to confirm the results. The CPS will offer all school-based testing to staff at least twice per month, with about half of its staff receiving testing weekly. Chicago has the third-largest district in the US with 642 schools and more than 350,000 students.


Cancer Genetics this week announced the closing of its previously announced registered direct offering with several unnamed healthcare-focused institutional investors. The firm sold 2,777,788 shares of its common stock at $6.30 per share, priced at the market under Nasdaq rules, yielding gross proceeds of approximately $17.5 million. The Rutherford, New Jersey-based drug discovery and preclinical oncology services company said it will use the net proceeds for general corporate purposes, including working capital and capital expenditures. The net proceeds are also expected to be available to the combined company once the previously announced merger with StemoniX closes, which is subject to stockholder approval.


SkylineDx said this week it received ISO 13485:2016 certification for its quality management system from notified body BSI Netherlands following an audit in November 2020. SkylineDx said it had to demonstrate design, development, and servicing of its molecular tests, and that they are safe and effective in order to get certification.


In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared on GenomeWeb.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.