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In Brief This Week: Scripps Research Translational Institute, DermTech, T2 Biosystems, Bio-Rad, More

NEW YORK – The Scripps Research Translational Institute has received $54 million in renewed funding from the National Institutes of Health for enrolling and engaging participants in the All of Us Research Program, Scripps Research said last week. Under the five-year project, SRTI will oversee the Participant Center for the program and anticipates receiving $282 million in total funding, depending on annual approvals and the availability of funds. Scripps Research was originally awarded $207 million over five years in 2016 to lead the Participant Technologies Center for what was then called the Precision Medicine Initiative, now All of Us. 

DermTech said this week that it has received a favorable coverage policy for its molecular melanoma test from a Blues plan in Michigan. The policy, which adds to a contract that became effective last August, enhances access to the Pigmented Lesion Assay (PLA), the foundational assay for the company's DermTech Melanoma Test (DMT), which includes another gene, for the approximately 4.5 million members of the plan. DermTech's total of covered lives in the US is now approximately 133 million, including 68 million for Medicare/Medicare Advantage and 65 million for commercial and governmental payors. 

T2 Biosystems reported this week that it has obtained breakthrough device designation from the US Food and Drug Administration for a direct-from-blood assay to detect Candida auris. The company previously received breakthrough designation for its T2 Resistance and T2 Lyme assays. 

Bio-Rad Laboratories said this week that its board of directors has approved a new share repurchase program for up to $500 million of outstanding shares of its common stock. The company completed the repurchase of common stock authorized under the prior share repurchase program on June 5. The new program has no time limit and may be suspended or discontinued at any time. 

Theradiag this week reported preliminary financial results for the first half of 2023. Revenues grew nearly 7 percent to €6.7 million compared to €6.3 million in the same period in 2022. Sales in the firm’s Theranostics business rose 18 percent to €3.6 million from €3.0 million in 2022, partially driven by solid growth in France, the company said in a statement. Meantime, the firm's in vitro diagnostics business declined about 4 percent to €3.1 million from €3.2 million in the first half of 2022 as sales in this segment contracted in France. As of June 30, the company had cash and cash equivalents of €5.7 million. 

Ginkgo Bioworks said this week that it has expanded its collaboration with Japan's Sumitomo Chemical to develop functional chemicals with synthetic biology. Ginkgo plans to utilize its strain design technology to develop a microbial strain and related fermentation process to produce the target molecule, while Sumitomo Chemical will develop the manufacturing process and its scale-up for commercialization. The deal expands on the companies' existing biomanufacturing partnership. 

Separately, Ginkgo said that it has been awarded a four-year contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, worth up to $18 million, to develop methods to manufacture complex therapeutic proteins using cell-free protein synthesis. Ginkgo will lead a team that includes researchers at Imperial College London and New Mexico-based bioinformatics startup Nature's Toolbox. 

Biospecimen and research services provider BioIVT said this week that it has acquired PrecisionMed, a supplier of biospecimens for neurology and oncology, for an undisclosed amount. Carlsbad, California-based PrecisionMed owns the largest global repository of longitudinally collected human cerebrospinal fluid samples, along with other matched biofluids. BioIVT, based in Westbury, New York, specializes in control and disease state samples from humans and animals, as well as other products and research services. 

Virax Biolabs Group said this week that it inked a contract to launch a laboratory facility at the Scale Space research and innovation campus at Imperial College London. The firm said the site will be instrumental in the launch of its Virax Immune T-cell testing platform by providing the first laboratory for blood draw and analysis, and the laboratory will also let Virax fulfill third-party laboratory orders. 

The American Association for Clinical Chemistry said this week that it will change its name to the Association for Diagnostics & Laboratory Medicine. The name change will be officially rolled out during the organization’s Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo starting July 23. The name "more accurately reflects our diverse membership, which includes all professionals working within or adjacent to the clinical lab," the organization said in a statement. 

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.