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In Brief This Week: South Korea; Cancer Genetics; Danaher; Abbott; Health Discovery; Biocept

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The South Korean government this week announced the launch of a post-genome project aimed at developing and commercializing new genomic technologies.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported that the South Korean government plans to spend KRW578 billion ($539 million) during the next eight years on the effort, starting with KRW45.5 billion in 2014.

"The genomic industry has been showing the fastest growth in the 21st Century, but the country's investment and technology in that area are far behind those in other industries," Yonhap quoted the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning as saying. "Now is [the] time when the country urgently needs an active strategy to catch up with the rest of the world."

Cancer Genetics initiated two clinical trial contracts with unnamed biopharmaceutical customers as part of the company's SelectOne program. The contracts are expected to increase revenues from the program to more than $13 million during the next two years, Cancer Genetics said. Biotech and biopharma firms participating in SelectOne have access to Cancer Genetics' genomic and biomarker-based testing technologies for use in their oncology clinical trials.

Danaher's board has approved a regular quarterly dividend of $.10 per share payable on April 25 to shareholders of record on March 28.

Abbott's board declared a quarterly common dividend of $.22 per share payable on May 15 to shareholders of record on April 15.

Health Discovery said that it has "figured out" how to reduce its burn rate to less than $50,000 per month from a prior burn rate of between $185,000 and $250,000. In a letter to its shareholders, the company's Interim CEO and Chairman Kevin Kowbel provided an update on progress being made by Health Discovery's new management team during the past seven months.

In addition to getting a better handle on spending, Kowbel said that the company has started receiving funding for a Series C Preferred Shares sale. Two million preferred shares at $.08 per share have been sold for a total of $160,000. The Series C shares feature $.08 warrants and $.08 contingency warrants. The goal is to raise a maximum of $1 million in the round.

"Assuming no additional Series C shares are sold and no revenue or alternative financing from any other source is realized, we estimate there are sufficient funds to continue operations through approximately [first] quarter 2015," Kowbel said.

He added that the past seven months has been focused on "strengthening" its relationship with NeoGenomics. The Ft. Meyers, Fla.-based cancer diagnostics firm is working to bring to market several products using Health Discovery's technology, including a prostate cancer test.

Lastly, the company has filed another interference request on an Intel patent "that we believe references prior art patented by" Health Discovery, Kowbel said. The firm has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine US Patent No. 7,685,077 granted to Intel. The patent covers an RFE-SVM method.

"We remain confident [Health Discovery] has the first SVM-RFE patent," Kowbel said.

Biocept said in a document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it raised net proceeds of about $17.4 million from its recent initial public offering of $1.9 million shares at $10 per share. In addition to granting the underwriters on the offering a 45-day option to purchase up to 285,000 additional shares of Biocept's common stock at $9.30 per share to cover any overallotments, the company said that it issued to designees of Aegis Capital warrants to purchase up to 95,000 shares of common stock at $12.50 per share.

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