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In Brief This Week: Oxford Nanopore; Natera; Inivata; and More

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Oxford Nanopore said this week that it has opened the PromethIon Early Access Program (PEAP) to allow researchers to get first access to the technology. The PromethIon is a desktop device for high-throughput, high-sample number, nanopore-based analysis of DNA and RNA. It works the same way as Oxford's MinIon, the company said, but on a larger scale. PEAP participants will receive a PromethIon, installation support, flow cells, and reagent kits, and access to online support communities.

Oxford Nanopore also announced this week that it has opened the VolTrax Introduction Program (VIP) to give researchers access to its new automated, programmable USB sample preparation device. The fee for participation in the first wave of the VIP will be $2,100, and participants will receive a VolTrax device, cartridges, and reagent kits, access to an online community of VolTrax users, and the chance to participate in validation tests of the technology.

In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week, Natera reported that it has signed a deal to lease an additional 48,000 square feet of space at its offices in San Carlos, California. The initial 16,000 square-foot expansion will cost the company $60,731.25 per month, and will increase 3 percent each year after the first 12 months. The cost for the second expansion of an additional 32,000 square feet will be equal to the price per square foot of the first expansion, and will also increase 3 percent per year after the first 12 months. 

Inivata announced this week that it has launched a US clinical validation study of its targeted molecular profiling liquid biopsy platform in comparison to tissue-based molecular profiling in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. The study will be conducted at more than 30 centers in the US. Patient samples will be analyzed at Inivata's CLIA-accredited lab in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The company expects to complete the trial in July 2017. 

BioMontr Labs said this week that it has signed new agreements to provide HIV-1 viral load testing services for CytoDyn's ongoing Phase IIb PRO 140 Monotherapy Extension Study and its upcoming Phase III PRO 140 Monotherapy Study. BioMontr, a CLIA-certified lab located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, offers various high-complexity, molecular assays as well other proprietary and esoteric molecular testing. Financial terms of the deal with CytoDyn were not disclosed.

In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared on the GenomeWeb site.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.