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In Brief This Week: Illumina, Thermo Fisher, Macrogen, and More

NEW YORK – Illumina announced this week that it will open a facility at the University of Maryland BioPark in Baltimore later this fall. The new 13,000-square-foot Illumina Solutions Center will provide office space for hundreds of employees, and will serve as a training facility and product showcase for US customers on the East coast.

Thermo Fisher Scientific's board of directors this week declared a quarterly cash dividend of $.19 per common share, payable on Oct. 15 to shareholders of record as of Sep. 17.

Macrogen announced this week that it has changed its name to Psomagen. The company — which is headquartered in Rockville, Maryland and has additional laboratories in New York, Massachusetts, and Virginia — was established in 2004 as part of the global expansion of its South Korean parent company, also named Macrogen.

Functional proteomics company Sengenics announced this week that it has joined the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) Biomarkers Consortium. The company is aiming to help accelerate the identification and commercialization of autoantibody biomarkers for the early diagnosis of cancer and autoimmune diseases, as well as the development of new companion diagnostics tests.

Sengenics will provide its expertise about the discovery of autoantibodies for diagnostics, companion diagnostics, and therapeutics, particularly through its KREX technology. The technology has been used to discover autoantibody biomarkers with both diagnostic and protective potential for cancers, autoimmune diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders, the company said. KREX protein arrays have also been used for stratification of patients into responders, non-responders, and those exhibiting immune-related adverse events.

ACT Genomics Holdings said this week that it has opened a 7,000-square-foot next-generation sequencing laboratory at the Hong Kong Science Park. The lab — the company's third in Asia — has space for 40 sales and research staff members and will run both the Thermo Fisher Scientific Ion GeneStudio S5 and Illumina NextSeq 550 systems. ACT Genomics will offer NGS-based precision cancer testing to serve clinical, pharmaceutical, and research markets. The facility will also serve as ACT Genomics' corporate finance center.

The firm also has labs in Taiwan and Japan.

NeoGenomics this week announced its intention to build a new cancer diagnostics testing facility and global business headquarters in Fort Myers, Florida. The new facility is expected to open in 2021. The 150,000-square-foot laboratory and headquarters will incorporate innovative technology for comprehensive cancer testing that spans all testing modalities, including a state-of-the-art molecular lab with next-generation sequencing technology, NeoGenomics said. The new lab will also support clinical trials for new oncology drugs. 

The company said that based on its investment of at least $25 million in the new facility and the creation of at least 100 new jobs, NeoGenomics would be entitled to an annual tax credit equal to up to 5 percent of the eligible capital costs for up to 20 years for the cost of the building. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has also agreed to provide state tax refunds starting in 2022 based on the creation of at least 295 new jobs over five years at a minimum average annual salary of $59,900. Based on NeoGenomics meeting that threshold, it would be eligible for up to $1.77 million in tax refunds.

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

Panel Votes for COVID-19 Pill

A US Food and Drug Administration panel has voted to support the emergency use authorization of an antiviral pill for COVID-19 from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, CNN says.

But Not Harm

New Scientist reports that UK bioethicists say that though gene editing may improve food production, it should not harm livestock welfare.

Effectiveness Drop Anticipated

Moderna's Stéphane Bancel predicts that that current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reports.

Cell Studies of Human Chromatin Accessibility, SARS-CoV-2 Variants, Cell Signaling Networks

In Cell this week: chromatin accessibility maps of adult human tissues, modeling to track SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, and more.