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PerkinElmer, Znomics, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, NCBIO, UC Berkeley, GeneGo

PE to Focus Drug Discovery Business on Cellular Sciences, Software
PerkinElmer this year will continue to focus its drug discovery and imaging business around cellular imaging, cell signaling tools, and biochemical and cellular screening, a company official said this week at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.
Rob Friel, PE’s president and COO, said in a Web cast presentation at the conference that the firm sees three fundamental emerging trends: a move on the part of pharma and biotechs from biochemical screening to cell-based screening and cellular sciences; a move from general reagents to specific, application-based reagents; and better software because of improvements in technology, specifically in the cellular imaging area.  
PE made a number of acquisitions around those areas in 2007, while simultaneously pruning its offerings in the proteomics and functional genomics areas. Last January, the company completed its acquisition of Belgian drug discovery tools shop Euroscreen and German tools and technology shop Evotec Technologies (see CBA News, 1/12/07).
In April, PE acquired Improvision, a cellular imaging software company based in the UK (see CBA News, 4/6/07).
According to Friel, “[PE’s] approach going forward is to focus these key technologies and provide imaging solutions to our customers in the form of reagents and application software; try to benefit from this capability by providing assay development services, because [it sees] that there are companies out there that want to outsource that; continue to strengthen our [biochemical and cellular screening] core; and focus more effort around cell lines and biomarkers.”
Friel said that over the next three years, the company predicts that it will see more than 10 percent revenue growth per year, 6 to 8 percent of which would be organic, and 12 to 15 percent EPS growth per year. The company also anticipates that its cash flow will be greater than its net income.   

Znomics Begins Trading Under New Ticker Symbol
Znomics announced last week that its common stock began trading on the OTC Bulletin Board under the new ticker symbol, "ZNOM.OB,” effective Friday, Jan. 4.
The new symbol was issued following the November completion of the company's reverse merger with Pacific Syndicated Resources and the renaming of the combined company as Znomics under the leadership of the former Znomics' directors and officers (see CBA News, 11/30/07).

NC Consortium Scores $100K, Phase I Grant to Build COI
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has awarded a $100,000 grant to a consortium coordinated by NCBIO for Phase I planning of a center of innovation in advanced medical technologies, the center announced this week.
If the resulting plan is completed and approved within a year, the COI would receive a four-year, $2.5 million Phase II grant to begin supporting the commercialization of new products and the recruitment and expansion of companies developing advanced medical technologies.
Terms of the grant require that the COI be self-supporting within five years.
NCBIO’s partners in the project include the Charlotte Research Institute, the Duke University Department of Biomedical Engineering, the East Carolina Brody School of Medicine, the Joint School of Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and the Wake Forest University Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Technology transfer offices at the academic partners, as well as representatives of the state’s regional economic development partnerships in Charlotte, the Piedmont Triad, the Research Triangle, and Eastern North Carolina will also participate in the planning process.

UC Berkeley Students to Use GeneGo Software in Toxicology Program
The University of California, Berkeley, will use GeneGo’s MetaCore and MetaDrug software as part of the coursework for its computational toxicology course, GeneGo said this week.
The course is a required component for molecular toxicology majors at the university. UC Berkeley students will use the software to analyze ‘omics data and to study the beneficial and harmful effects certain chemicals can have in humans and in other organisms, the company said.
Dale Johnson, a UC Berkeley adjunct professor who teaches the computational toxicology course, said in a statement that the course was designed with a view toward systems biology, which he defined as “looking at the complex interactions of metabolic, genetic, protein, and cellular elements with the goal of modeling entire systems in relation to chemical stresses."
Financial terms of the agreement were not provided.

The Scan

Expanded Genetic Testing Uncovers Hereditary Cancer Risk in Significant Subset of Cancer Patients

In Genome Medicine, researchers found pathogenic or likely pathogenic hereditary cancer risk variants in close to 17 percent of the 17,523 patients profiled with expanded germline genetic testing.

Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Embryos Appear Largely Normal in Single-Cell 'Omics Analyses

Embryos produced with spindle transfer-based mitochondrial replacement had delayed demethylation, but typical aneuploidy and transcriptome features in a PLOS Biology study.

Cancer Patients Report Quality of Life Benefits for Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Immune checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy was linked in JAMA Network Open to enhanced quality of life compared to other treatment types in cancer patients.

Researchers Compare WGS, Exome Sequencing-Based Mendelian Disease Diagnosis

Investigators find a diagnostic edge for whole-genome sequencing, while highlighting the cost advantages and improving diagnostic rate of exome sequencing in EJHG.