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In Brief This Week: Thermo Fisher, Agilent, MiRxes, and More

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Thermo Fisher Scientific said this week that it has signed a deal to acquire Gatan, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Roper, for approximately $925 million in cash. According to Thermo Fisher, Gatan is a leading manufacturer of instrumentation and software to enhance and extend the operation and performance of electron microscopes, and its technologies are used in materials science, electronics, and life sciences. Gatan is headquartered in Pleasanton, California, and has approximately 320 employees. Its business is expected to generate approximately $150 million in revenue this year. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2018, at which point, Gatan will become part of Thermo Fisher's analytical instruments business unit.

Agilent Technologies announced this week that it has agreed to acquire privately-held ProZyme, a provider of glycan analysis reagents, kits, and standards. The acquisition will expand Agilent's portfolio of biopharma consumables in the glycan market, the company said. Financial terms were not disclosed. ProZyme is headquartered in Hayward, California, and employs 47 people.

MiRxes said this week it is providing its ID3EAL miRNA and other non-coding RNA detection technology to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of the Harvard Medical School, to support its recently opened Non-Coding RNA Precision Diagnostics and Therapeutics Core Facility. Hosted by the cancer center at BIDMC, the core facility brings together investigators in RNA biology and medicine to accelerate investigations into how non-coding RNA functions and how these insights can be used to develop new therapies. Singapore-based MiRxes specializes in the development of blood-based cancer diagnostic kits that analyze miRNA using a proprietary qPCR technology.

Becton Dickinson, Heart to Heart International, and the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics said this week that they collaborated to award six grants to clinics in the US, to support improving evidence-based care in free and charitable clinics doing point-of-care testing. Each grant consists of a CLIA-waived, point-of-care test system consisting of instruments, reagents, and quality control to perform tests for sodium, potassium, chloride, CO2, glucose, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, ionized calcium, hemoglobin, hematocrit, cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, macroscopic urinalysis, microalbumin, INR, hemoglobin A1c, strep A, HIV, mono, pregnancy, influenza A & B, and RSV.  

The grants are being provided to the clinics as part of a multi-year initiative called Point of Care, Enhancing Clinical Effectiveness, which is funded by BD and implemented by HHI and the NAFC. The funds are used to equip clinics with essential diagnostic point-of-care testing, so that they can evaluate their patients on-site and in a timely manner, the organizations said.Large numbers of patients treated at the clinics have chronic diseases that can be tracked with laboratory testing.

Ubi Caritas Health Ministries in Beaumont, Texas; HealthFinders Collaborative in Faribault, Minnesota; Hope Health Clinic in LaGrange, Kentucky; St. Vincent de Paul Medical & Dental Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona; Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services in Goochland, Virginia; and Clinic with a Heart in Lincoln, Nebraska are the free and charitable clinics receiving grants in 2018.

MyHeritage said this week that it has opened a new distribution center in Tilburg, The Netherlands, resulting from increased demand for its ancestry genetic testing kits in Europe. Due to the opening of the new center, delivery times across Europe via standard shipping are now less than a week, and shipping costs for customers are lower. The center will also receive DNA samples from European customers and forward them to the firm's US lab. It will cover most countries in Europe except Poland — where the kits are not sold — and Norway and Switzerland — which are still served by MyHeritage's US fulfillment center.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham and HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology announced this week that they have begun recruitment for the Alabama Genomic Health Initiative (AGHI). The AGHI, a collaboration between the two institutions, is an effort to use genomic analysis to identify those at high risk for genetic disease. It will recruit a diverse group of participants from every county in Alabama and provide genomic analysis and interpretation to this group free of charge. In its first year, AGHI recruited nearly 2,000 individuals. The goal will be to increase the number of participants to more than 10,000 people over five years.

The majority of participants in the initiative will undergo a genotyping array test, assessing some 650,000 identified genomic biomarkers. The genotyping test will look for the presence of variants in 59 specific genes known to contribute to disease, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Participants who test positive for variants of one of the 59 genes may consent to receive that information through genetic counseling and can consent to have it shared with their primary medical provider. Participants with signs of a genetic condition of undetermined origin will receive whole-genome sequencing. Analysis and interpretation of those results will also be communicated to patient and medical providers, and participants will be linked to appropriate medical care.

Cibus said this week that it has raised $70 million in a Series C funding round led by Fidelity Management and Research Company. The round was also joined by several other investors, including Alexandria Venture Investments and Cormorant Asset Management. The funding will be used to commercialize Cibus' first product, SU Canola — a non-transgenic sulfonylurea tolerant weed control crop — and to accelerate research and development into other non-transgenic crops, including early releases of canola, flax, rice, and potato followed by traits in every major crop.
T2 Biosystems said this week that it has joined the Russell 3000 Index, effective after the open of the US market on June 25. Inclusion in the index will help expand awareness of T2 Bio, the company said. Membership in the index, which remains in place for one year and ranks stocks by total market capitalization, means T2 Bio will also be included in the large-cap Russell 1000 Index or small-cap Russell 2000 Index.

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.