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In Brief This Week: Illumina, Interpace, Genetic Signatures, Guardant Health, More

NEW YORK ­­– Illumina said this week that it has opened its first manufacturing site in China. The Shanghai-based facility will initially produce 16 clinical sequencing reagents. In a statement, the firm said it plans to "achieve complete localized production for its gene sequencing instruments and consumables within the next five years."

Interpace Biosciences this week announced the closing of the sale of its Pharma Services business to Flagship Biosciences for an undisclosed amount. Parsippany, New Jersey-based Interpace will use the proceeds of the transaction for working capital requirements and investments to help drive the growth of its molecular diagnostics business. The company said the disposition of its pharma services business is expected to improve operating cash flow by nearly $5 million annually.

The American Society of Human Genetics said this week that the Illumina Corporate Foundation has awarded it a one-year, $175,000 grant to support the ASHG learning center.

The web portal offers scientists access to professional education videos, webinars, workshops, and other content. ASHG said it would use the grant to implement closed captioning across its live and on-demand content. Other details were not disclosed.

Genetic Signatures this week reported fiscal year 2022 revenues of A$35.4 million, a 25 percent increase from A$28.3 million in FY 2021. The growth was driven by demand for the firm's EasyScreen SARS-CoV-2 Detection Kit, although the company said in a statement that demand for other non-COVID-19 tests has increased. The company's net income for the full year was A$3.3 million, or A$2.11 per share, compared to A$1.8 million, or A$1.23 per share, in the previous year. The Australian firm had A$36.9 million in cash and cash equivalents at the end of the fiscal year.

OpGen has been granted a 180-day extension from the Listing Qualifications Department of Nasdaq to regain compliance with the exchange's minimum bid price requirement. If at any time until Feb. 27, 2023, the bid price for OpGen's common stock closes at or above $1.00 per share for a minimum of 10 consecutive trading days, the firm will regain compliance with the rule. The firm's share price hasn't closed at $1 or higher since mid-January.

Ochsner Health this week became the first healthcare system to incorporate Epic Systems' Orders and Results Anywhere integration with its genomic module. Physicians at New Orleans-based Ochsner, through the system's Precision Medicine Program, will now be able to order Tempus Health genomic tests for patients within the electronic health record system. Through the Epic EHRs, physicians can order genomic tests to identify actionable variants, in turn informing therapeutic decisions and clinical trial eligibility. In addition to Tempus, Epic has also partnered with Caris Life Sciences, Guardant Health, and Myriad Genetics to integrate biomarker testing into EHRs.

Guardant Health said this week that it has expanded its collaboration with Merck KGaA to further leverage the GuardantINFORM real-world evidence platform to help accelerate development efforts for the pharma firm's precision oncology pipeline. The expanded strategic collaboration will focus on therapy development for core cancer indications with significant unmet need.

Caris Life Sciences said this week that the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center has joined its Precision Oncology Alliance, a growing network of leading cancer centers that collaborate to advance precision oncology and biomarker-driven research. MCW is the largest private research institution in Wisconsin, and its cancer center serves a distinct region that includes large, underserved populations of patients who experience significant disparities in cancer incidence and outcomes.

POA members gain access to a growing portfolio of biomarker-directed trials as well as Caris' CODEai, an industry-leading dataset with cancer treatment information and clinical outcomes data for over 275,000 patients.

The Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre Berhad said this week that it has signed a memorandum of understanding to explore opportunities for the distribution of biopharmaceutical and genomics products and services with Ajlan & Bros Medical Company. Under the MoU, the parties will explore the feasibility of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based Ajlan becoming a marketing and distribution representative for Malaysian Genomics for genetic screening tests, mesenchymal stem cell products, and exosome products. Ajlan will also identify commercial R&D opportunities for genome sequencing and analysis in the Middle East and North Africa region for areas such as agriculture, aquaculture, plantations, healthcare, and industrial biotechnology. In turn, Malaysian Genomics will analyze samples for genetic screening tests as well as provide Ajlan with genomic and bioinformatics expertise to bid for projects.

BioEcho Life Sciences, a Cologne, Germany-based biotech company specializing in nucleic acid extraction technology, has opened a US subsidiary in Boston. In a statement, BioEcho General Manager Lydia Willing noted that the company will provide an extensive portfolio of its products in the US and have the ability to work on specific customer needs around nucleic acid research.

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

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.