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In Brief This Week: Roche, Premaitha Health, GRO Bioscience, and More

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Roche said this week that its Ventana PD-L1 assay has been expanded for use in non-small cell lung cancer and metastatic urothelial carcinoma in countries that recognize CE marking, and where Roche's Tecentriq cancer immunotherapy is approved. The assay was previously approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a complementary diagnostic for assessing patients with NSCLC and mUC being considered for treatment with Tecentriq. It uses immune cell and tumor cell staining within the tumor microenvironment to evaluate patients with PD-L1 status.

Premaitha Health announced this week that it expects revenues for the first six months of its fiscal year 2017 to total £2.6 million ($3.5 million), an increase of about 75 percent over the £1.5 million in revenues it reported in the first half of fiscal year 2016. Test volumes for the first half of fiscal 2017, which ends Sept. 30, are expected to exceed 22,000, double the number of the first half of fiscal 2016. Excluding Yourgene Bioscience, which the company acquired in March, test volumes were up 150 percent during the first half, totaling about 15,000 tests, compared to 6,000 tests during the first half of fiscal 2016, a number that excludes tests from Swiss customer Genoma, which entered bankruptcy in May. Premaitha also said that Illumina's patent lawsuit against the company went before the English High Court in July, and that it expects a judgment by the end of this year.

GRO Biosciences this week secured $2.1 million in a seed funding round led by Digitalis Ventures and joined by Eric Schmidt's Innovation Endeavors. The funds will support buildout of bioprocess development for the company's platform of genomically recoded bacteria for the production of therapeutic proteins with enhanced properties, such as increased potency and stability, and improved targeting and delivery into cells and tissues. GRO Biosciences spun out of the George Church lab at Harvard Medical School, and Church will serve as head of the company's scientific advisory board. Other cofounders include strategic advisory board member Andrew Ellington of the University of Texas at Austin; CEO Daniel Mandell; CSO Christopher Gregg; principal scientist Benjamin Stranges; and company advisors Marc Lajoie and Ross Thyer.

MolecularMD said this week it is partnering with Indica Labs to combine MolecularMD’s diagnostic clinical testing solutions with Indica’s digital biomarker analysis services. The deal will enable the transition of preclinical research to the diagnostic setting and deployment of advanced imaging analysis workflows, the firms said. Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a document filed this week with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Great Basin Scientific said investors have acquired $2.8 million in non-convertible senior secured notes, of which it expects to use $685,000 primarily to finance the search for a buyer to acquire some or all of its assets. The firm said that it could be forced to cease operations and seek bankruptcy protection if it is unable to consummate a sale. In August, Great Basin disclosed in a document filed with the SEC that it has received notice that it is in default of senior notes for $18.3 million.

Tempus said this week that is collaborating with the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University to improve outcomes for breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancer patients. As part of the initial research project, Tempus will provide molecular sequencing, analysis, and decision support tools based on molecular, clinical, and outcome data and patient samples provided by OHSU.

Hamad Bin Khalifa University and the Institut Pasteur this week signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on biomedical research. The institutions will work together on projects in the areas of genomics and precision medicine, and will organize and facilitate conferences, seminars, workshops and trainings to raise awareness for genomics and the prevention of infectious disease and other research areas.

Streck announced this week that it has signed a distribution agreement for its cell stabilization and molecular products in France with Orgentec Sasu.

The Institute for Research in Schools and the Wellcome Genome Campus announced this week that they have formed the Genome Decoders Project, in which students from 60 schools in the UK will work with scientists to sequence and annotate all the genes in the DNA of the human whipworm parasite. The data will be used to help researchers understand the worm's biology and aid the development of vaccines or treatments.

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.