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In Brief This Week: Miraculins, Alere; LabCorp; Plasticell, Pfizer, Cellzome

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - Miraculins said today that Alere has secured a second exclusive option period on Miraculins' preeclampsia technology and will provide Miraculins a non-refundable fee. Under the terms of the original agreement signed two years ago, Alere is working towards the goal of commercializing Miraculins' preeclampsia technology for worldwide distribution.

Speaking at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this week, Laboratory Corporation of America Chairman and CEO David King said that the Genzyme Genetics business, which the firm acquired in 2010 for $925 million, has been divided into two new brands: Integrative Genetics and Integrative Oncology.

King highlighted the firm's growing presence in molecular diagnostics, companion diagnostics, and personalized medicine, bolstered by the acquisitions of Genzyme Genetics, Clearstone Central Laboratories in June 2011, and Orchid Cellmark, which LabCorp recently acquired for $85.4 million.

He also said that he believes LabCorp will be a primary channel through which companion diagnostics and sequencing-based diagnostic tests come to market.

Plasticell said this week that the UK Technology Strategy Board has funded a research consortium comprising of Plasticell, Pfizer (Neusentis), the University of Sheffield, and led by Cellzome, which will develop methods of characterizing stem cells through protein fingerprints predictive of changes in stem cell behaviour. The TSB is providing a grant of £900,000 ($1.4 million) towards the project as part of its Regenerative Medicine Programme.

In Brief This Week is a Friday column containing news items that our readers may have missed during the week.

The Scan

Close Panel Vote on Califf Nomination

The New York Times reports there was a close committee vote to advance the nomination of Robert Califf to lead the US Food and Drug Administration to the full Senate.

Task Force Reports on Scientific Integrity

Nature News writes that that a new task force report recommends that the US establish a cross-agency scientific integrity council.

Across the Hall

Genetic testing, closed-circuit cameras, and more show how a traveler, without any contact, infected others at a New Zealand quarantine facility, CNN reports.

Science Paper Examines Influence of Chromatin Modifications on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

In Science this week: genes regulating chromatin modification may contribute to OCD risk.