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In Brief This Week: Illumina, Personalis, Proteomedix, and More

NEW YORK – Illumina said this week that South Korea has selected the firm's technology for the second pilot project in the country's effort to establish a national library of genomic data. The project will use Illumina's NovaSeq 6000 sequencing platform and Dragen Bio-IT data analysis platform to analyze 12,500 samples from rare disease patients.

Illumina Ventures, an independently-managed healthcare venture capital firm, said this week that it has closed its second investment fund with commitments of $325 million. The fund will support early-stage companies that are pioneering breakthroughs in life science tools, clinical diagnostics, therapeutics platforms, digital health, and other applications of genomics. It's anchored by Illumina, with the majority of the capital coming from other strategic and financial investors, including the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund. The firm now has a total of $560 million under management.

Personalis said this week that the US Department of Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program has issued a new task order, valued at approximately $10 million, under its current contract with the company. The performance period for the order is through March 31, 2022, and it brings Personalis' cumulative revenue from the VA MVP to approximately $185 million.

The company also announced that it has received a record $25 million in orders from its oncology customers in Q3 of this year.

Swiss cancer diagnostics firm Proteomedix this week announced a research and development partnership with Chinese cancer detection and screening company New Horizon Health, which is investing CHF 3.0 million ($3.2 million) in the form of a convertible loan to Proteomedix to support their joint program. Proteomedix said the deal will combine the companies' complementary technologies and abilities in biomarker development and will focus on cancer patient management.

PerkinElmer said recently it has completed its $5.25 billion acquisition of BioLegend, a provider of antibodies and reagents. The acquisition is the largest in PerkinElmer's history and expands its life science franchise into cytometry, proteogenomics, multiplex assays, recombinant proteins, magnetic cell separation, bioprocessing, and other high-growth areas, the Waltham, Massachusetts-based firm said.

Separately, PerkinElmer also said this week it is collaborating with the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City to increase COVID-19 testing capacity. Using PerkinElmer’s instruments and reagents, the hospital system can process up to 25,000 COVID-19 tests each day, with the goal of eventually reaching 100,000 tests daily.

Pacific Biosciences said this week that it has closed its acquisition of Omniome. Total consideration for the deal was approximately $316 million in cash, including adjustments for Omniome's indebtedness and working capital, and approximately 9.4 million shares of PacBio common stock, including 600,000 shares attributable to stock options issued in replacement of Omniome's unvested options as part of the transaction.

To help finance the deal, PacBio sold approximately 11.2 million shares of common stock in a private placement at a price of $26.75 per share, for gross proceeds of approximately $300 million.

KSL Biomedical said this week it has acquired Pulse Scientific, a Toronto-based manufacturer of diagnostic products and distributor of medical, laboratory, and research products. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition expands KSL, which develops diagnostic and therapeutic products, into Canada. The firm has offices in Buffalo, New York, and Jiangsu, China. Pulse specializes in in vitro diagnostic tests for labs and physicians, as well as technical microbiology products and controls for clinical, industrial, and pharma customers.

Opentrons Labworks said this week it raised $200 million in a Series C investment round, led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 with participation from Khosla Ventures. New York-based Opentrons will use the funding to further invest globally in its automated lab platform, which integrates lab robotics, assays, and operations to create industry-specific lab solutions such as diagnostic lab services for health systems, lab automation robotics for life science R&D, and genome-scale cell engineering for biopharma. The company said the investment will specifically support the development of new robotic tools, an expanded biofoundry, new diagnostic tests, and additional diagnostic labs.

The American Cancer Society this week announced a goal to raise $30 million for a national cancer screening initiative. With support from Genentech, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, and the National Football League, among other sponsors, the society hopes to improve screening rates for breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancers, and reduce the disparities in screening access, especially among populations who face social or economic barriers. Key parts of the initiative will include national and local public health expert consortiums and health system engagement for the implementation of evidence-based screening interventions, as well as public awareness campaigns that provide educational materials to people of diverse backgrounds. The initiative will also focus on advocating for policy change to improve screening rates.

Co-Diagnostics said this week that the Mexican Department of Epidemiology has approved the company's Logix Smart Influenza A/Influenza B/COVID-19 ABC Test for sale in the country. The approval follows an independent evaluation of the RT-PCR-based test's sensitivity and specificity.

Becton Dickinson announced this week it has partnered with Washington State to offer rapid COVID-19 testing and screening in K-12 schools. Schools throughout the state can use the firm’s BD Veritor Plus system free of charge through a partnership with the Washington Department of Health and the Health Commons Project "Learn to Return" school testing program. Schools also have a full-service option, whereby a third-party testing company, Premier Medical Group, plans and executes the school's testing program, including a testing protocol, administration of tests to students, and completion of all required results reporting to individuals and schools, as well as to local, state, and federal health officials, BD said.

Fulgent Genetics this week announced a partnership with the Houston Health Department and Houston-area public schools to provide COVID-19 testing to selected students during the current school year. The Temple City, California-based firm will provide PCR testing and next-day results from its lab in the Houston area.

Macrogen Europe said this week that it has opened a new sequencing facility in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The company offers Sanger sequencing, next-generation sequencing, and bioinformatics services to customers in Europe and Africa. The new lab, which adds to an existing facility in Amsterdam, provides sample pickup services throughout the Netherlands and Belgium and offers Sanger sequencing results within 24 hours in those countries. 

Thermo Fisher Scientific said this week that its board of directors has authorized the repurchase of $3 billion of shares of its common stock in the open market or in negotiated transactions. The authorization has no expiration date. This replaces the company's existing repurchase authorization, of which $500 million was remaining.

Agilent Technologies said this week it will pay a quarterly dividend of 19.4 cents per share of common stock on Oct. 27 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Oct. 5.

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.