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In Brief This Week: Illumina, BGI, Thermo Fisher, Genetron, Yourgene, Caris Life Sciences, More

NEW YORK ­­­– The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit this week dismissed BGI's appeal of the scope of a preliminary injunction issued at Illumina's request in a patent infringement suit. Both BGI and Illumina asked the court to dismiss the appeal after the US District Court for the Northern District of California modified the injunction on Sept. 23 to allow BGI to continue internal research on its CoolMPS reagents.


Thermo Fisher Scientific said this week that the Lung Cancer Genetic Screening Project for Individualized Medicine in Asia (LC-SCRUM-Asia), based in Japan, will be using the company's Ion Torrent Genexus sequencing system and Oncomine Precision Assay pan-cancer panel in two new projects to study non-small cell lung cancer. The new work is an extension of Thermo Fisher's ongoing collaborations with LC-SCRUM, which started in 2015 and involved the use of the Oncomine Comprehensive Assay in clinical trials.


China-based precision oncology firm Genetron said this week that its blood-based next-generation sequencing test for early detection of liver cancers, HCCscreen, has been granted Breakthrough Device designation by the US Food and Drug Administration. According to the company, the decision by FDA was based on evidence showing superior performance for HCCscreen — which is intended to be used as a screening tool, for individuals who are designated to be at high-risk for HCC due to chronic HBV infection and/or liver cirrhosis — over the current standard of care, which includes tools like ultrasound imaging and protein assays.

Genetron has already commercialized HCCscreen in China as a lab developed test. In addition to pursuing FDA approval of the assay, the firm is also currently building a lab in Maryland, for which it intends to seek CLIA certification to serve global pharmaceutical companies.


Yourgene said this week that it has launched an integrated and expanded service offering called Yourgene Genomic Services (YGS), which will consolidate the firm's noninvasive prenatal testing and COVID-19 testing laboratories in Manchester, UK, with its research, oncology, and NIPT services in Taiwan. Yourgene will also expand the company's services for contract research organizations, pharmaceutical firms, and biotech partners to both Manchester and Taipei. As part of the additional CRO services, the firm will invest more than £500,000 ($642,000) in its laboratories' facilities, equipment, and teams in both locations. It will also consider additional locations for YGS.


Oncocyte has terminated the full-time employment of Albert Parker, its chief operating officer and secretary, Tony Kalajian, its chief accounting officer, and Lyndal Hesterberg, its chief scientific officer, as part of a cost-savings plan.

Parker, Kalajian, and Hesterberg each accepted an offer to continue to serve temporarily in their current positions on a part-time "at will" basis under the terms of a reduction in salary agreement, whcih includes a 50 percent cut to their bi-weekly salaries, but allows them to remain eligible to participate in Oncocyte's employee benefit and equity incetive plans. The firm expects the part-time employment to end on Dec. 18, 2020, although any party may also decide to terminate employment at an earlier date.


South Korean biotechnology firm Bioneer said recently that it has signed a turnkey project contract with the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Iraq to create a COVID-19 testing laboratory. As part of the $2.4 million contract, Bioneer will supply and set up the equipment and kits for molecular diagnosis and research. The company also said that it has developed a kit for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 and flu, and that it will obtain CE mark and Korean FDA certifications for the test following clinical studies.


Venture capital firm Kurma Partners announced this week the first closing of Kurma Diagnostics2 at €50 million ($59 million). Kurma Diagnostics is an investment fund dedicated to early-stage European diagnostic companies, and the second fund will be dedicated to molecular and digital technologies, the Paris-based company said. KD2 will provide funding to 15 companies specializing in molecular diagnostic tools, smart and connected diagnostic devices, or tools based on artificial intelligence. The €50 million raised surpasses the €35 million raised by its predecessor Kurma Diagnostics.


Caris Life Sciences said this week that New England Cancer Specialists has joined the Caris Precision Oncology Alliance, a collaborative network of leading cancer centers that demonstrate a commitment to precision medicine. Centers in this network collaborate to advance comprehensive cancer profiling and establish standards of care for molecular testing in oncology. The alliance comprises more than 40 academic, hospital, and community-based cancer institutions, including 16 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers.


BC Platforms has formed a new data partnership with the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Under the partnership, CCPM will provide clinical and genomic consented records and biobank samples representing an ethnically diverse patient population across the entire UCHealth system to BC Platforms' global data partner network for pharmaceutical research and development, a BC Platforms spokesperson said. BC Platforms' global data partner network, called BCRquest, now has more than 10 data partners providing access to one of the largest clinical and genomic data repositories in the world, the spokesperson added.

"We've been using BC Platforms' personalized medicine platform for many years … and we're delighted to add this data partnership to our strategic collaboration," Kathleen Barnes, professor and director of CCPM said in a statement. "By being able to efficiently engage with drug developers, innovative organizations such as ours can enable discoveries on new ways to treat diseases."


Centogene said this week that it has been awarded ISO/IEC 27001:2017 certification for its information security management system. The certification verifies that the firm's processes and IT systems support the highest level of confidentiality, availability, and integrity of all processed data, including data from patients, employees, customers, and business partners.


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

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.