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In Brief This Week: Illumina, Natera, Sherlock Biosciences, and More

NEW YORK – Illumina this week announced that it is donating sequencing systems and consumables worth more than A$2 million ($1.5 million) to an Australian government program to sequence COVID-19 cases nationwide. Under the program, the Communicable Disease Genomics Network will sequence all positive cases of COVID-19 to better understand transmission and spread of SARS-Cov-2. Australia has provided A$3.3 million to support the program through a Medical Research Future Fund grant from the University of New South Wales school of medical sciences.


Natera this week announced a program to use both its Signatera molecular residual disease test and its Prospera transplant rejection test to improve care for organ transplant patients with a history of cancer.

Specifically, the firm plans to help colorectal cancer patients to be listed for and receive a kidney transplant earlier in a study called Colorectal Neoplasm in Candidates Enlisting for Renal Transplantation (CONCERT) study. It also plans to track hepatocellular cancer recurrence post liver transplant in an observational study called Signatera in Liver Cancer (SIGNAL). Finally, Natera intends to study unique organ rejection dynamics in cancer patients through the Prospera in Renal Allograft Recipients with Cancer (PARC) study.


Sherlock Biosciences said this week that it has formed a nonprofit organization called the 221b Foundation, which will enable access to the firm's CRISPR-based technology for COVID-19 diagnostic test development while simultaneously supporting equity in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Proceeds from any company or third-party sales of COVID-19 testing products based on Sherlock Bio’s technology will specifically support racial and gender diversity in STEM. The 221b Foundation's initial leadership includes board members Sherlock Bio Cofounder, President, and CEO Rahul Dhanda, and Mark Jefferson, assistant dean for community engagement and equity at Harvard Law School. The foundation's first partner in promoting STEM diversity is Scratch, programming language and online community designed for young people between the ages of 8 and 16.


10x Genomics this week announced the closing of its public offering of 4.6 million shares of Class A common stock, including the underwriters' fully exercised option to purchase 600,000 shares. At a public offering price of $110 per share, the aggregate gross proceeds were $506 million, before deducting underwriting discounts, commissions, and offering expenses.


NanoString Technologies said this week it has established a new service network for its GeoMx digital spatial profiling Cancer Transcriptome atlas with next-generation sequencing readout, as well as future GeoMx assays. The eight initial sites include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the University of Minnesota, the University of Pittsburgh, the Netherlands' University Medical Center Utrecht, the UK's University of York, China's FynnBio, and Australia's Griffith University.


SPT Life Sciences, a global group of technology companies focused on supporting life sciences research, said this week that it has completed the acquisition of LBD Life Sciences, a Chinese drug discovery instrumentation company. SPT, backed by technology-focused investment firm Battery Ventures, had previously held a minority stake in LBD, but now owns all remaining shares. The acquisition will allow SPT to extend its commercial reach into the Chinese life sciences research market.


Genetic counseling services provider GeneScreen Counseling and health data management firm Command Health said this week that they have formed a new company that integrates their respective technologiesThe new company, called SynerGenomics, will offer an online platform for connecting patients and physicians with GeneScreen counselors, as well as tools for office productivity. The HIPAA-compliant and mobile-ready platform integrates with all major clinical systems and customizes to individual physician preferences and practice protocols with genomic research, education, counseling, and testing services, the companies said. Command Health CEO Bard Betz will be CEO of SynerGenomics, with GeneScreen Founder and CEO Jill Chisholm acting as president and chief medical officer.


Personalis said this week that the US Department of Veterans Affairs' Million Veteran Program has exercised an option to extend the company’s existing population sequencing contract through September 2021. Alongside the extension, the VA also issued the firm a new task order with an approximate value of up to $31 million and has the right to issue additional task orders through the duration of the contract extension.

Personalis began providing DNA sequencing and data analysis services for the MVP in 2012 and has delivered more than 87,000 genomes to date. According to the company, the cumulative value of task orders it has received from the program totals approximately $175 million.


Luminex this week announced a cash dividend for the third quarter of $.09 per share, payable on Oct15 to stockholders of record on Sept24.


Agilent Technologies announced this week a quarterly dividend of $.18 per share, to be paid on Oct. 28 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Oct. 6.


Danaher announced this week a quarterly dividend of $.18 per share of common stock, payable on Oct. 30 to shareholders of record on Sept. 28. The firm also announced a quarterly dividend of $11.875 per share of its 4.75 percent Series A Mandatory Convertible Preferred Stock, payable on Oct. 15 to shareholders of record on Sept. 30, and a dividend of $12 per share of its Series B Mandatory Convertible Preferred Stock, payable on Oct. 15 to shareholders of record on Sept. 30.


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

More Boosters for US

Following US Food and Drug Administration authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Washington Post writes.

From a Pig

A genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a human without triggering an immune response, Reuters reports.

For Privacy's Sake

Wired reports that more US states are passing genetic privacy laws.

Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.