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In Brief This Week: Sophia Genetics, Twist Bioscience, Dante Labs, MGI, Codex DNA, More

NEW YORK – Fresh off its July 23 initial public offering, Sophia Genetics said this week that it has completed a previously announced $20 million private placement of 1,111,111 shares to an affiliate of GE Healthcare, with which the firm signed a letter of intent to codevelop new artificial intelligence-driven analytics and workflow technologies to improve the matching of treatments based on genetic and tumor profiles of cancer patients. IPO underwriters JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Cowen, and Credit Suissehold the option to purchase as many as 1,950,000 additional shares at $18 each.


Twist Bioscience said this week that it has generated potent binding antibodies to an undisclosed oncology target utilizing its internal antibody discovery pipeline. The research was the result of a collaboration with Molcure, using that firm's artificial intelligence technology to pursue novel antibody targets. 

"Molcure's AI approach complements our proprietary antibody discovery and optimization efforts, leveraging technology to refine our internal antibody pipeline," Emily Leproust, Twist's CEO and cofounder, said in a statement. "Their platform enables us to find more leads derived from NGS sequencing from our library." 


Dante Labs said this week that it has acquired a new laboratory, a former Lighthouse Lab, at the Charnwood Campus in Loughborough, UK. The new lab, which will open next month, will provide up to 50,000 COVID-19 RT-PCR tests per day and deliver clinical whole-genome sequencing. 


MGI said this week that it has opened the MGI Australia Demonstration Laboratory to support users in Australia and New Zealand. The lab offers researchers in Asia-Pacific access to MGI's technology including sequencing platforms, lab automation systems, and bioinformatics products, as well as technical support. 


Codex DNA said last week that it has signed a licensing and supply agreement with TriLink Biotechnologies. Under the terms of the agreement, Codex DNA will integrate TriLink's CleanCap messenger RNA capping technology into its suite of automated mRNA synthesis kits for its BioXp system as well as its BioFoundry services. Financial and other details were not disclosed.

Combining the technologies increases the fraction of translationally active mRNA, which simplifies and shortens the mRNA manufacturing process and results in high levels of protein production, Codex DNA said in a statement. 


Genetic Technologies of Melbourne, Australia, this week reported A$99,000 ($73,000) in revenues from customers for its fiscal fourth quarter, up from A$6,000 in Q3. Revenues included A$95,000 from the firm's agreement with IBX to produce, distribute, sell, and market Genetic Technologies' COVID-19 risk tests in the US. As of June 30, Genetic Technologies had A$20.8 million in cash. Earlier this month, the company signed an agreement to acquire the brand and distribution rights for EasyDNA from BelHealth for $4 million.


Cytek Biosciences has closed its initial public offering of 14,564,635 shares of its common stock at a price of $17 per share, the firm said this week.  

The offering consisted of 11,764,706 shares issued and sold by Cytek and 2,799,929 shares sold by the selling stockholders. Cytek did not receive any proceeds from the sale of shares by the selling stockholders. The gross proceeds to Cytek from the offering were $200 million. The firm has also granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 2,184,695 shares of common stock to cover over-allotments, if any, at the initial public offering price, less underwriting discounts and commissions. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Piper Sandler, and Cowen acted as joint bookrunning managers. 


Genetron Health said this week that it has entered the priority review and approval process under the National Medical Products Administration of China for its companion diagnostic kit for avapritinib (CStone Pharmaceuticals' Ayvakit). According to the company, the test is the first companion diagnostic product developed in China to go through the NMPA’s accelerated review channel, which expedites the evaluation of qualified medical devices that are deemed urgent and necessary. 

As a proprietary companion diagnostic, Genetron’s kit would be used to detect PDGFRA D842V gene mutations in gastrointestinal stromal tumor patients to guide the use of avapritinib. The test uses real-time PCR to detect gene mutations with high specificity and sensitivity. A clinical study utilizing the kit demonstrated data on par with that of Sanger sequencing, with concordance rates of over 99 percent.


PerkinElmer said last week that its board has declared a dividend of $.07 per share of common stock, payable on Nov. 12 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Oct. 22.  


Becton Dickinson’s board of directors this week authorized a quarterly dividend of $.83 per common share, payable on Sept. 30 to holders of record on Sept. 9. The indicated annual dividend rate is $3.32 per share. 


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

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people over 65 or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.