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In Brief This Week: PerkinElmer, Verinata; Vermillion; DNA Genotek; Quest; More

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – PerkinElmer and Verinata Health said this week that "several of the top health insurance plans" now cover Verinata's Verifi non-invasive prenatal diagnostic test. As a result, more than 80 million covered lives have access to the test. PerkinElmer Chairman and CEO Robert Friel said that two of the top-five providers recently signed agreements to cover Verifi, though he did not elaborate. He added that more than 15 health plans now cover Verifi.

Verinata is an Illumina company, and earlier this year, PerkinElmer became the exclusive US marketing partner for the test.

Verinata's competitor, Sequenom, said last week that the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association inked a contract to cover that firm's MaterniT21 Plus test.

Vermillion closed on a previously announced private placement raising $11.8 million in net proceeds. The company sold 8 million shares of its stock to Oracle Investment Management, Jack Schuler, Matthew Strobeck, and other investors. It also issued warrants exercisable for 12.5 million shares of its common stock at $1.46 per share as part of the close. If and when the warrants are exercised, Vermillion would receive an additional $18.3 million in gross proceeds. The funding will go toward efforts to increase test sales and improve reimbursement for the firm's OVA1 test. Also, it would seek to expand commercial opportunities into new markets and develop new ovarian cancer diagnostic tests.

Vermillion also said that its board of directors has approved an amendment to the company's bylaws to increase the number of directors to eight from six. The new board positions are Class III director positions. The increase was required as part of the private placement, the company said.

DNA Genotek launched the Spit for Africa program in conjunction with the African Society of Human Genetics, or AfSHG. The sponsorship program seeks to improve access to DNA collection for locally and internationally funded genomics projects and to help grow the membership of AfSHG. It also aims to lower the cost of DNA collection for projects being carried out in Africa.

As part of Spit for Africa, DNA Genotek will donate $1.00 to AfSHG for every Oragene DNA collection kit sold to African-funded research projects. The funds will support member activities. All purchases of the DNA collection kits for African-funded projects will also be discounted. Buyers need to be AfSHG members, but DNA Genotek will fund membership for participants not already in the society, the company said.

Quest Diagnostics has acquired the toxicology and clinical laboratory business of Concentra for an undisclosed amount. Concentra is a medical center operator and a subsidiary of managed-care firm Humana. Quest also entered into a deal to be Concentra's primary provider of workplace drug toxicology and clinical laboratory testing.

Interleukin Genetics said its first-quarter revenues fell 28 percent year over year, while its net loss narrowed.

The Waltham, Mass.-based genetic test development company said that total revenue for the three months ending March 31 was $487,393, down from $677,884 in the year-ago period.

Net loss improved to $1.2 million, or $0.03 per share, compared a net loss of $1.4 million, or $0.04 per share, a year ago. R&D costs were cut to $160,380 from $446,274 a year ago, while SG&A spending was trimmed to $1.0 million from $1.1 million.

Interleukin said it had $1.1 million in cash and cash equivalents at the end of the first quarter.

Pressure BioSciences is unable to file its Form 10-Q for the first quarter with the US Securities and Exchange Commission within the prescribed time frame, the company said in a document with the agency. Key personnel responsible for preparing the quarterly earnings regulatory filing had left the firm, and filing it within the prescribed time frame would result in "unreasonable" efforts and expenses to the company, Pressure Bio said.

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

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