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In Brief This Week: Illumina, NanoString, Biocept, and More

NEW YORK – Illumina is laying off 118 employees at three sites in California, according to a report  this week from the State of California's Employment Development Department. The company laid off 88 staffers in San Diego and 19 in Foster City on Nov. 5 and will lay off another 11 in Hayward on Feb. 3, 2020. Illumina declined to provide additional information on the dismissals. The company has more than 7,300 employees worldwide.

NanoString said this week it has formed the GeoMx Breast Cancer Consortium to focus on using the GeoMx Digital Spatial Profiler for translational research in breast cancer. Founding member investigators and institutions of the consortium include: Elizabeth Mittendorf of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute; Jodi Carter, Aubrey Thompson, and Fergus Couch of the Mayo Clinic; Sherene Loi of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre; Melissa Troester of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Sandra Swain of Georgetown University Medical Center; and Aleix Prat of the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute.

Through the work of the GBCC, NanoString said it intends to develop a GeoMx Atlas database combining spatial and clinical data to enable meta-analyses to identify and validate oncology biomarkers in the spatial domain. Initial projects under the consortium include studies to explore the immune interactions in HER2+ breast cancer, responsiveness to immunotherapy in triple-negative breast cancer, disease evolution in metastatic breast cancer, and the role of the tumor microenvironment in molecular epidemiological studies.

Biocept said this week that it has closed its previously announced underwritten public offering of 24.6 million shares of its common stock (or pre-funded warrants to purchase common stock) and warrants to purchase up to 24.6 million shares of its common stock. Each share of common stock or pre-funded warrant was sold together with one warrant to purchase one share of common stock at a combined price to the public of $0.405 per share and warrant. Gross proceeds, before underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses, were approximately $10 million, Biocept said.

Curetis said this week that its fully owned subsidiary Ares Genetics has joined the NVIDIA Inception program as a community member. The Inception program is a virtual accelerator designed to nurture startups in the AI and data sciences space. It offers go-to-market support, expertise, and technology for program members through training, events, and GPU discounts.

Ares Genetics has also been selected for the AWS Activate program, under which Amazon Web Services provides startups with resources to quickly start and scale their businesses on AWS. Under this program, Ares will receive cloud computing credits, training, and support to accelerate development and commercialization of its AI-powered ARESupa, a "universal" pathogenome assay that leverages AI and next-generation sequencing.

Twist Biopharma, a division of Twist Bioscience, this week announced an expanded collaboration with Pandion Therapeutics on antibody optimization. Twist will apply its antibody optimization platform to additional Pandion antibodies, following the successful completion of the initial project. Financial and other details of the expanded collaboration were not disclosed.

Owlstone Medical announced this week that it has joined the EU-funded Exposome Project for Health and Occupational Research. The project's participants are aiming to further elucidate the complex relationships between environment and disease by developing the concept of a working-life exposome, which takes into account all occupational and related non-occupational exposures, such as lifestyle, throughout an individual's lifespan.

Owlstone Medical will receive an undisclosed amount of funding from the project to provide Breath Biopsy Collection Stations and Kits for the collection of breath samples, and the firm will perform analysis on samples received. The project participants anticipate that new data will be generated, particularly in the area of respiratory disease, by comparing the exposome and health status of workers in a range of industries with that of the general population. Non-invasive exposome biomarkers in breath will be developed to enable monitoring of lung health and burden of exposure, in combination with similar data obtained from blood.

Danaher this week approved a quarterly cash dividend of $.17 per share of its common stock, payable on Jan. 31, 2020, to shareholders of record on Dec. 27, 2019. The conglomerate also announced a quarterly cash dividend of $11.88 per share of its 4.75 percent Series A Mandatory Convertible Preferred Stock, payable on Jan. 15, 2020, to shareholders of record on Dec. 31, 2019.

Bioinformatics firm Seven Bridges said this week that it has completed International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27017 and 27018, and renewed its ISO 27001. These ISO certifications provide validation by a third-party audit firm that Seven Bridges meets strict security and compliance requirements for protecting data. ISO 27001 is the defacto international security certification, particularly important to the European market, which validates that the Seven Bridges Information Security Management System has been audited for compliance by an ISO certification body. ISO 27017 certifies information security for cloud services, and ISO 27018 ensures the protection of personally identifiable information.

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.

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