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In Brief This Week: PerkinElmer; Guardant Health; PacBio; BGI Tech; Thermo Fisher, UCSD; Fluidigm; Cynvenio; and More

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Fitch Ratings this week affirmed three of its BBB- ratings for PerkinElmer. The ratings were affirmed for the company's issuer default rating, its credit facility, and its senior unsecured notes. Additionally, Fitch revised PerkinElmer's ratings outlook to Positive from Stable. The rating action applies to about $858 million of consolidated debt outstanding as of June 30.


Guardant Health has received accreditation by the College of American Pathologists, following an on-site laboratory inspection. Guardant provides non-invasive, pan-cancer tumor genome sequencing services.


The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute has bought Australia's first PacBio RS Single Molecule, Real-Time next-generation sequencing platform from Pacific Biosciences. The university bought the system, which is now fully installed and operational, through Millennium Science. Matthew Brown, director of UQDI and the Diamantina Individualised Oncology Care Centre, said the addition of the instrument uniquely positions the Diamantina center "to advance skin, blood, and breast cancer research in Australia."


BGI Tech Solutions is providing sequencing services to Danish grass seed firm DLF-Trifolium and Aarhus University's department of molecular biology and genetics as part of work to develop a series of new high-yield forage grass varieties. The effort is using genomic selection methods, which are based on information from all DNA markers for predicting phenotypic performance. The goal of the project is to achieve higher yields combined with better fiber and sugar content, which will increase milk production, while reducing methane emission and nitrogen losses from dairy farming, said BGI Tech, a subsidiary of BGI.


Thermo Fisher Scientific and the University of California, San Diego launched the Duane Roth Innovation Grant, a $50,000 award that will be given each year to a scientific researcher at the university. The winner will collaborate with a Thermo Fisher Life Sciences Solutions scientist on research that supports proof of concept and technology applications studies. Winners may also be eligible for expanded funding from Thermo Fisher beyond the first year. For 2014, the award will focus on two areas, the first being peripheral cancer detection, including the capture, isolation, and genetic analysis of cancer-associated mutations. The second is novel applications for the Ion Torrent sequencing system, including clinical workflow automation/simplification, signal enhancement, non-genomic applications and haplotyping. The pre-proposal deadline is Oct. 20. More information can be obtained from the UCSD Office of Research Affairs.


Fluidigm said in a document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it is expanding its office and laboratory space in South San Francisco, Calif. by about 9,000 square feet effective Oct. 1 as part of an amendment to its lease agreement.


Cynvenio has started accepted payment for its ClearID Breast Cancer test under health insurance plans, including Aetna, UnitedHealth Group, Cigna, Assurant, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and various health maintenance organizations, excluding Medicaid HMOs. A spokesperson for Cynvenio said that the test is not in-network with insurers but the company will submit claims using the Medicare-approved reimbursement claim codes for elements of the test. If the request for reimbursement is denied, "Cynvenio will work on behalf of the patient to obtain coverage and minimize [the patient's] financial exposure." She added that moving ahead, the company will pursue reimbursement agreements with payors.


SQI Diagnostics' common shares have begun trading in the US on the OTCQX board under ticker symbol SQIDF. Its stock will also continue to trade on the TSX Venture Exchange under ticker symbol SQD.


Analytik Jena completed its acquisition of the ICP-MS business of Bruker on Sept. 12 for an undisclosed amount. Integration of that business is anticipated to be completed by the end of the year. The transaction was announced last month.


Epigenomics is converting 13.5 million bearer shares into registered shares, effective Sept. 22 at a 1:1 ratio in order to "facilitate direct communication with shareholders and increase transparency of the shareholder structure," it said.


T2 Biosystems reported in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission no revenues and a net loss of $7.3 million, or $6.35 per share, for its second quarter ended June 30. For Q2 2013, the firm had research and grant revenues of $120,000 with a net loss of $5 million, or $4.95 per share. T2 reported that its R&D spending increased 27 percent year over year to $4.7 million from $3.7 million, while its SG&A expenses increased 85 percent to $2.4 million from $1.3 million.

T2 finished the quarter with $15.9 million in cash and cash equivalents, but subsequently raised around $58.7 million in net proceeds in an initial public offering in the US.


Veracyte said in an SEC document that it closed its purchase of Allegro Diagnostics on Sept. 16. When the deal was announced earlier this month, Veracyte priced it at $21 million in a combination of cash and stocks. On closing Veracyte paid about $8.2 million in cash and issued 964,377 shares of its common stock, it said in its SEC document.


In Brief This Week is a Friday column containing news items that our readers may have missed during the week.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.