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In Brief This Week: Quest Diagnostics; DNA Genotek; Heart Genomics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The stock of Quest Diagnostics this week was downgraded by Zacks Equity Research to Underperform. In a statement, the investment research and information firm noted a drop in Quest's revenues and earnings-per-share for continuing operations in the fourth quarter, as well as a "disappointing outlook" for the first quarter of 2013.

"The current market environment remains challenging for Quest Diagnostics due to commercial pricing pressures and Medicare cuts … which may lead to a 3 percent reimbursement decline in 2013," according to Zacks.

DNA Genotek this week introduced its GenoFIND Genomic Services Award, which is designed to facilitate analysis of nucleic acid samples. The award will provide US$10,000 in GenoFIND services — including nucleic acid extraction, SNP genotyping, PCR-based assays, whole-genome and targeted sequencing, array-based SNP and expression profiling, custom assay development, and bioinformatic analysis — to the selected winner.

Ottawa-based DNA Genotek is accepting award entries from researchers at academic institutions and non-profit research centers until March 1, with the winner to be notified on March 1.

Information about the award and submissions can be found here.

Miami Beach, Fla.-based Heart Genomics, a startup developing genomic-based tests for heart failure patients, has received a loan from the state's Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research. The amount of the loan has not been disclosed.

Jamie Grooms, CEO of ICPR, which is a non-profit organization that provides funding for technologies and companies spun out of research universities and institutions, said the tests being developed by Heart Genomics are based on research conducted in the lab of Joshua Hare at the University of Miami's Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute.

Hare is the scientific founder of Heart Genomics.

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

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.