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In Brief This Week: Pacific Biosciences, Ginkgo Bioworks, Twist Bioscience, Novacyt, Grail, More

NEW YORK – Pacific Biosciences told the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week that it has achieved a commercial milestone that will trigger payment to former Omniome shareholders. Under the merger agreement, the shareholders are entitled to receive, among other things, an aggregate of approximately $101 million in cash and approximately 8.9 million shares of PacBio common stock, representing $100 million divided by the volume-weighted average of the trading prices of shares for the 20 trading days ending with and including the trading day that is two days immediately prior to the achievement of the milestone. The company anticipates issuing the shares on or about Oct. 4. 

Ginkgo Bioworks said this week that it has inked a memorandum of understanding with Madagascar to implement biosecurity capabilities. The firm's Concentric biosecurity subsidiary will provide bioinformatics training, digital pathogen monitoring dashboards, and genomic sequencing technologies to bolster security against COVID-19 and other biological threats, including at Ivato International Airport. The deal follows similar partnerships with Botswana, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  

Twist Bioscience and IMIDomics this week announced a collaboration on antibody discovery for drug development. Twist will conduct antibody discovery against targets identified by IMIDomics, a Spanish drug firm focused on immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. Under the terms of the collaboration, Twist will receive upfront and project-specific fees and will be eligible to receive payments associated with specific clinical and commercial milestones, as well as royalty payments on product sales. IMIDomics will receive human antibodies against several of its priority targets from Twist. Other details of the partnership were not disclosed. 

Novacyt this week reported an 80 percent drop in year-over-year revenues for the first half of 2023. Revenues in H1 fell to £3.3 million ($4.0 million) from £16.5 million a year ago due to reduced demand for COVID-19 testing. The clinical diagnostics company's net loss for the period amounted to £8.3 million, or £.12 per share, compared to a net loss of £8.7 million, or £.12 per share, in H1 of 2022. As of June 23, Novacyt had £81.7 million in cash and cash equivalents. Earlier this month, the firm completed its acquisition of Yourgene Health for £16.7 million. 

Point32Health and Grail said this week that they have expanded a previously announced pilot program to offer Grail's Galleri multi-cancer early detection screening test. The initial program, announced in February 2022, enabled access to Galleri at no cost for eligible Point32Health employees and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care members who purchase their insurance on the Maine health insurance marketplace. The expansion of the pilot will now enable access for Point32Health's Commercial Tufts Health Plan or Harvard Pilgrim Health Care members who meet eligibility requirements for the test and whose primary care provider is a Mass General Brigham-affiliated provider. Point32Health is the parent company of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan. 

ClearNote Health said this week that its Avantect Pancreatic Cancer test has received a new Current Procedural Terminology Proprietary Laboratory Analyses code from the American Medical Association. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also released preliminary reimbursement rate determinations for new and revised CPT codes, including code 0410U for Avantect, ClearNote said in a statement. The recommended reimbursement rate for the test is $1,160, and CMS is expected to issue its final determination on the rate later this year. The code goes into effect on Oct. 1, and final rates will go into effect on Jan. 1. ClearNote’s test is intended for patients at high risk for pancreatic cancer and uses epigenomic methods to measure levels of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in cell-free DNA to detect pancreatic cancer signals at an early stage. 

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.