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In Brief This Week: UC Santa Cruz, Meridian Bioscience, MDxHealth, and More

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The University of California, Santa Cruz Genomics Institute's Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative and cancer research funding agency St. Baldrick's Foundation this week said they are making an 11,000-plus tumor database freely available for use by all cancer researchers. The tumor database, available here, contains RNA-seq gene expression data, as well as age, disease, and sex. The mission of the Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative is to employ genomic data and computational approaches to identify less toxic and more effective treatments. Treehouse analyzes a child's cancer data against both childhood and adult patient cohorts across all types of cancer, helping to identify situations where an adult drug is predicted to work on a subset of pediatric patients.

Meridian Bioscience said this week it has initiated clinical trials for a new illumigene CMV molecular amplification test, designed specifically to detect congenital cytomegalovirus infection in newborns from saliva. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 200 babies are born with congenital CMV infection.

MDxHealth announced this week that it has signed a health care services agreement with Southern California Permanente Medical Group to assess the performance of its ConfirmMDx for Prostate Cancer test.

Belgian PCR automation software company UgenTec this week received an SME Instrument Phase 1 grant from the European Horizon 2020 fund worth €50,000. The company said it will use the funds to conduct a feasibility study of new PCR markets outside of clinical diagnostics.

Biospecimens providers BioreclamationIVT announced this week that it has acquired Asterand Bioscience, a provider of human tissue and research solutions with a focus on the oncology market. The acquisition will expand BioreclamationIVT's portfolio of highly-annotated disease-state biospecimens, the company said. Financial details were not disclosed.

NantHealth said this week its GPS Cancer molecular test is now covered by Sistemas Medicos Nacionales, SA de CV — a healthcare service plan that provides care for patients in the cities of Tijuana, Tecate, and Mexicali in northern Mexico. GPS Cancer provides a molecular profile performed in the CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited laboratories of NantOmics, which along with NantHealth is part of the NantWorks group of companies. It integrates whole genome sequencing, whole transcriptome sequencing, and quantitative proteomics to provide a profile of a patient’s cancer that informs personalized treatment strategies, NantHealth said.

Biocept said this week it has entered into a preferred provider agreement with Scripps Health Plan in San Diego to make the firm's Target Selector liquid biopsy tests available in-network to the health plan's cancer patients. The firm noted that more than 190 million covered lives have in-network access to its liquid biopsy platform because of this and other health plan agreements. Biocept's President and CEO Michael Nall said in a statement that its tests "can be used to improve treatment outcomes by helping physicians rapidly obtain the actionable information they need to design personalize treatment plans for their cancer patients."

VolitionRx this week reported a second quarter net loss of $3.5 million, or $.13 per share, compared to a net loss of $2.9 million, or $.13 per share, a year ago. The company said it had $16.5 million in cash and cash equivalents as of June 30. During the quarter, it began the process to gain regulatory approval for its tests in Taiwan and Singapore, and noted that if approved in Singapore, it would provide VolitionRx access to nine other South Asian markets. The company also established a wholly owned US subsidiary, Volition America, based in Austin, Texas.

Bio-Techne this week reported that its net sales for the fourth quarter rose 16 percent year over year to $156.6 million. For the quarter ended June 30, its diagnostics segment net sales rose 14 percent year over year to $32.6 million.

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.