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In Brief This Week: QuantuMDx, Molbio, Seegene, Qiagen, Epigenomics, More

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – QuantuMDx and Molbio Diagnostics said this week they have signed a memorandum of understanding to work jointly in infectious disease diagnostics. The initial focus will be on genotypic drug resistance testing for patients infected with tuberculosis. The partners also said they will explore partnerships around portfolio development and target sequencing. Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Diagnostics maker Seegene this week signed an agreement with Biogroup-LCD to supply the French consortium of laboratories with ₩10 billion ($8.9 million) worth of diagnostic kits. Seegene will supply one million PCR-based kits, including tests for sexually transmitted infections, women's health, and gastrointestinal infections.

PredictImmune said this week it received ISO 13485 certification. The UK firm called the certification "another significant step forward in [its] progress toward the January launch of its first prognostic biomarker test, PredictSure IBD." The test received CE-IVD marking earlier this month.

Qiagen announced this week that it will initiate the repurchase of a third tranche of shares under a share repurchase program the firm initiated on Jan. 31. Between Dec. 19, 2018 and March 8, 2019, up to 2.5 million of Qiagen's common shares worth a total purchase price of up to $70 million will be repurchased exclusively on the electronic trading platform of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The maximum purchase price per share will not exceed the average closing price for the last five trading days prior to the day of purchase on the electronic trading platform of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange by more than 10 percent.

Epigenomics said this week that that it has initiated a multi-center validation and development study of its methylated cell-free DNA biomarkers to aid in the detection of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with cirrhosis. Epigenomics said that it recently CE marked its test, called HCCBloodTest, based on a published clinical study that demonstrated a sensitivity of 90.6 percent and specificity of 87.2 percent while also exhibiting higher diagnostic accuracy compared to alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a widely used serum diagnostic marker for liver cancer. The company is now starting a cross-sectional, prospective clinical trial at three undisclosed medical centers to assess the biomarkers and validate the performance of the test in the US population. Epigenomics said that key findings from the study will bridge to a longitudinal study that will begin in the second half of 2019 and support a regulatory submission to the US Food and Drug Administration.

Genetic Technologies, via its subsidiary Gene Ventures, has entered into a joint venture with Blockshine Technology Corporation. The JV, called Blockshine Health, will pursue and develop blockchain opportunities in the biomedical sector. Blockshine Health will have full access to BTC's technology, royalty-free, as well as all of its opportunities in the biomedical sector. Genetic Technologies will invest $250,000 into the JV and have a 49 percent equity stake.

Streck and Farmalatina, of Santiago, Chile, have signed a distribution agreement for Streck's full portfolio of quality control, cell stabilization, and molecular products. Streck's portfolio includes quality control products for instruments and reagents; sample collection devices for the preservation of whole blood and other specimens for immunophenotyping and characterization of cell-free DNA and RNA; and kits for the detection of antibiotic resistance genes by multiplex real-time PCR.

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

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.