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In Brief This Week: Illumina, Novogene, Synthego, PositiveID, Invitae, and More

Illumina is contributing more than 8,000 associations of somatic genetic alterations to the Clinical Interpretation of Variants in Cancer (CIViC) resource, an openly accessible database hosted by Washington University in St. Louis. The donation includes information linked to cancer therapies and cancer subtyping to help clinical researchers identify relevant information associated with tumor variants gathered from publications and drug labels. The 8,000 associations cover more than 3,500 unique variants extracted from close to 700 scientific publications. It includes 74 drugs associated with 100 cancer types that have been collected over five years by a team of scientists.

Illumina's donation triples the number of associations in the CIViC database, making Illumina the largest donor to the project. The company recently made a similar donation of 95,000 human genetic variants to ClinVar to assist with rare disease diagnosis.

Novogene said that it has ordered 25 Illumina NovaSeq 6000 sequencers. Five of the sequencers will be located in the US. In addition, Novogene will operate the 20 units purchased by Nanjing Yangzi state-owned investment Group in China.

With the addition of these new NovaSeq sequencers to its existing array of 30 Illumina HiSeq X and 10 PacBio Sequel systems, Novogene said that it now offers the largest and most advanced sequencing capacity in the world with an annual throughput of 280,000 human whole genomes.

Synthego announced the winners of its $100,000 synthetic sgRNA grant giveaway. The company said it had originally planned to award grants to five institutions, but added three grant recipients due to "overwhelming interest and the quality of applications received." The winners, each of which will receive $20,000 worth of synthetic sgRNA for CRISPR genome editing, are: George Washington University; John Wayne Cancer Institute; Michigan State University; University of California, San Diego; University of Florida; University of Freiburg Medical Center; University of Oxford; and Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB).

The grants enables these institutions to more effectively conduct CRISPR genome engineering research in a number of application areas, including gene therapy for a rare immunodeficiency disorder, AD-HIES; cattle fertility and embryonic development; models for studying Alzheimer's disease; hyper-immunoglobulin E syndrome; development of applications to treat invasive bladder cancer; translational molecular medicine for cancer; stem cell development in marine organisms; and determining the genome characteristics of butterfly wing patterns, Synthego said.

PositiveID said that its 2016 revenues increased 89 percent year over year to $5.6 million from $2.9 million. The revenue increase was attributable to the company's acquisitions of E-N-G Mobile Systems and Thermomedics, which markets the Caregiver non-contact thermometer, in December 2015. PositiveID's molecular diagnostics segment, consisting of its Firefly Dx prototype system, generated revenues of $115,000, all of which was from a US government contract. The company reported a net loss attributable to common stockholders of $13.1 million, or a loss per share of $.06, compared to a net loss of $11.5 million, or a loss per share of $1.88 a year ago. The company used approximately 236.7 million shares to calculate loss per share in 2016 compared to about 6.1 million shares in 2015.

Invitae has launched the Invitae Patient Insights Network (PIN), a permission-based, patient centered network designed to make it easy for patients to share health experiences, contribute de-identified clinical data, and maintain their privacy while being connected to the latest research, treatment, and disease education opportunities. The company noted that PIN is a "patient-directed approach to the traditional patient registry." The information patients share can be used by clinicians, researchers, and therapeutic developers to locate screened cohorts for possible participation in research studies, but patients direct and control how their de-identified information is shared and can opt in or opt out at any time, Invitae said. The registry will open enrollment to people with a personal or family history of cancer or who have had genetic testing for cancer predisposition. Enrollment for patients with conditions in additional clinical areas, such as cardiology and neurology, will open throughout 2017.

In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared on the GenomeWeb site.

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