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In Brief This Week: MolecularMD, Agendia, Promega, NRGene, More

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – MolecularMD said this week that it has validated Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Oncomine Tumor Mutation Load Assay for clinical research trials for immunotherapy drug development. The assay interrogates 409 cancer-related genes and correlates well with exome mutation counts. MolecularMD has also developed an alternative workflow and quality control method to address deamination errors, which may result in inflated tumor mutational burden (TMB). The company offers the assay to customers as a service for translational research and clinical trials and is working on additional studies to determine the clinical utility of TMB analysis for predicting patient response to checkpoint inhibitors.

Agendia said this week that US Oncology has joined its FLEX breast cancer registry study. The study is a large-scale, prospective, observational cancer study that links full genome profiling with clinical data to create a patient database that could be used to identify new gene associations with prognostic and/or predictive value in breast cancer. All US Oncology Research-affiliated sites can participate in FLEX with eight initial sites in Texas and Arizona open for enrollment.

The first milestone for FLEX, which includes Agendia’s MammaPrint and BluePrint molecular subtyping tests, will be to capture genomic and clinical data for 10,000 breast cancer patients with 10 years of follow-up. The study is open to women and men in the US who have been diagnosed with stage I, II, or II cancer. Since enrollment began last year, 45 centers in the US have joined FLEX, and more than 700 patients have been recruited for the study, Agendia said.

Promega said this week that it has pledged $3 million over the next three years to the nonprofit Revive & Restore Catalyst Science Fund to support the exploration of new solutions for confronting significant environmental challenges.

Traditional conservation tools can be limited in addressing global challenges such as climate change, and current threats to wildlife and ecosystems are demanding innovative approaches, Promega said. Advances in biotechnology that have transformed medicine and agriculture provide fertile ground for transformative breakthroughs in conservation practice, it said.

The firm noted that funding is being provided to identify and develop advanced techniques of genetic rescue and to bring new tools to conservation work to enhance biodiversity. It noted that Revive & Restore has identified an opportunity to catalyze innovative science-based solutions for seemingly intractable conservation problems by leveraging and adapting emerging powerful genomic and biotechnology tools.

NRGene has constructed a comprehensive soy genome diversity-haploytpe database, which contains de novo assemblies and an all-to-all comparison of 34 varieties of soybean, a set of breeding germplasm covering the full range of maturity groups, NRGene said. The database is database is intended to be a "fundamental resource for basic research, genetic resource management, and breeding of elite soy varieties," the company said in a statement. The soy framework is now being offered to select collaborators as part of an initial release for testing and feedback, NRGene said.

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

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.