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In Brief This Week: Illumina, Standard BioTools, SomaLogic, Qiagen, Geneseeq

NEW YORK – Illumina said this week that Bristol Myers Squibb, GSK, and Novo Nordisk have joined the firm's Alliance for Genomic Discovery. The consortium is cofunding the whole-genome sequencing of 250,000 DNA samples for use in drug discovery and development. In 2023, the Alliance sequenced approximately 86,000 samples. 

Standard BioTools said this week it has completed its merger with SomaLogic. The deal was originally announced in October, creating a company valued at more than $1 billion. Since then, the merger has met with resistance in some quarters, and in December, SomaLogic Cofounder and former CEO Larry Gold, as well as current SomaLogic Chief Technology Officer Jason Cleveland, filed a class action lawsuit against SomaLogic's board alleging a breach of fiduciary duty. They also claimed a conflict of interest on the part of Eli Casdin, an investor and board member of both SomaLogic and Standard BioTools. Under the terms of the deal, each SomaLogic shareholder will receive 1.11 shares of Standard BioTools common stock for each share of SomaLogic common stock owned. 

Qiagen said this week that it is expanding its business in the Middle East with new regional headquarters and projects. The firm plans to open regional headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this year and has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi Ministry of Health to support public health and infection control initiatives. The collaboration will involve establishing a localized health data center, using the QIAstat-Dx platform to combat malaria, supplying the country with HPV assays for cervical cancer screening, and developing a latent tuberculosis screening program. In the country of Oman, Qiagen will also provide latent tuberculosis assays to Oman's Ministry of Health for its testing program that aims to test up to 800,000 people over two years using QuantiFeron-TB Gold Plus. 

Geneseeq said this week that its multi-cancer early detection solution CanScan has been granted breakthrough device designation by the US Food and Drug Administration. CanScan involves low-depth whole-genome sequencing of circulating cell-free DNA from a single tube of peripheral blood, extracting genetic and fragmentomic features to detect early cancer signals, and inferring their origin in the body. The company claims 99 percent specificity for the assay and has validated its performance in a large-scale clinical study series, DECIPHER (Detecting Early Cancer by Inspecting ctDNA Features), in over 13 cancer types. A large-scale prospective multicenter trial is on track to recruit 15,000 individuals. 

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.