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In Brief This Week: PerkinElmer, Biocept, Bio-Me, and More

NEW YORK – PerkinElmer subsidiary Oxford Immunotec said this week that its T-Spot Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit will be used for T-cell testing in the UK's Determining the Immune Response in Ethnic minority health workers to COVID-19 infection (DIRECT) study. Healthcare workers in Leicester are being recruited for a study of their immune response to infection or vaccination. Along with online questionnaires, the analysis will allow researchers to understand if there are differences in the immune response to COVID-19 in different ethnic minority groups. A custom version of the T-Spot Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit is being used for the study to see if vaccination leads to an immune response in the study’s subjects.

Separately this week, PerkinElmer’s board declared a quarterly dividend of $.07 per share of common stock, payable on Aug. 6 to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 16.


Biocept said this week that it has partnered with the Foundation for California Community Colleges to make COVID-19 testing available to a network of 116 schools that together serve more than 2.1 million students. Through the Foundation's CollegeBuys program — which leverages purchasing power of the combined colleges to negotiate discounted products and services — schools in the network will now be able to purchase Biocept's PCR-based test for students when they return from what is currently a remote learning program.


Akershus University Hospital and Bio-Me said this week that they’re collaborating on a study of the long-term effects of COVID-19 in adolescents and young adults (LoTECA). Specifically, they plan to investigate the involvement of the microbiome in such long-term effects, such as which gut bacteria are involved and altered in COVID-19. They’ll also analyze which clinical, genetic, microbiological, immunological, and psychosocial factors are important in severe disease and for long-term complications.

Bio-Me, which is providing its Precision Microbiome Profiling PMP technology for the study, has been awarded a grant from Oslo Municipality to cover the costs of analysis of the fecal samples from the approximately 500 SARS-CoV-2 positive adolescents and 100 controls who will be included in the study.


BC Platforms said this week that it has worked with Health Data Research UK to integrate its BCRquest.com data analysis technology into the HDR UK Innovation Gateway to create a search function called Cohort Discovery. The Swiss-American bioinformatics firm said that this integration will give researchers a new way of finding specific cohorts or demographic groups from multiple datasets. Cohort Discovery will be added to all 640 datasets in the Innovation Gateway, starting with COVID-19 records, due to the pressing need.


In its 10-Q form filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week, Opko Health said the $16.5 million settlement it agreed to for a class action lawsuit had been given final approval by the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division. The lawsuit, which was filed in 2018, had alleged that the company and its CEO Phillip Frost participated in market manipulation schemes that generated more than $27 million in unlawful stock sales. 

Separately this week, Opko subsidiary BioReference Laboratories announced that its deal to provide COVID-19 testing for Major League Soccer was renewed for a second year. BioReference will offer laboratory-based PCR testing and point-of-care testing for SARS-CoV-2 to players, match officials, and team staffs. The laboratory is also working with MLS team New England Revolution to test fans with field-level seats before home games.


Veritas Intercontinental said this week that it has opened a genomics laboratory in Barcelona, Spain, that specializes in whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing of healthy individuals. The lab will serve to process and analyze samples from Europe and Latin America, and expects to run more than 20,000 samples this year. The company, which was founded in 2018, was initially linked to Veritas Genetics.


Tacoma, Washington-based Northwest Medical Specialties this week merged with Osborn Cancer Care, a Washington state-based cancer center. The resulting entity will operate as Northwest Medical Specialties and will have seven locations in Washington. It will also expand Northwest Medical Specialties’ expertise in precision oncology and value-based care into a larger geographic area, providing more access to precision medicine for cancer patients in Washington.


TScan Therapeutics, a Waltham, Massachusetts-based company primarily developing T cell receptor-engineered T cell therapies for cancer treatment, filed for a $100 million IPO this week. In the process, the firm disclosed details about an agreement it made in November with Qiagen to develop a COVID-19 immune response test using T cell response to detect prior SARS-CoV-2 exposure. Terms of the option and license agreement called for Qiagen to pay TScan a one-time $150,000 fee for an option to obtain an exclusive, royalty-bearing, sublicensable, worldwide license to patents and applications related to SARS-CoV-2 peptides used in the development of the assay, according to an S-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Qiagen exercised the option on April 14 and is required to pay an additional $150,000 in return. In addition, Qiagen is required to pay TScan a one-time $300,000 milestone payment upon launch of its first in vitro diagnostic product containing the licensed peptides; and is required to pay TScan low- to mid-single-digit percentage royalties on net sales of any products containing the peptides.


Geneseeq Technology and AstraZeneca this week announced a collaboration to establish a cancer treatment center, called the Bio-Diagnostic Innovation Center, and a clinical diagnostics laboratory in Guangzhou, China. The center is focused on developing diagnostics platforms for cancer patients and will combine Toronto-based Geneseeq's expertise in clinical diagnostics tools and AstraZeneca's drug development experience. The center will also work to advance access to precision medicine through R&D, educational, and promotional efforts. The Guangzhou lab will be Geneseeq's fourth location in South China.


Angle this week reported preliminary full-year 2020 revenues were up 33 percent compared to the eight months ended 2019. The firm said that revenues are expected to be £800,000 ($1.1 million), compared to £600,000 a year ago. Angle plans to report a net loss for the year of £11.6 million, or £6.52 per share, compared £7.6 million, or £4.62 per share, for 2019.


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

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.