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Almac

The business is aimed to help its pharmaceutical, biotech, and diagnostics clients discover and develop biomarkers.

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

Almac has offered its experience, particularly with array technology, to pharma partners in the past, but the new program represents a single, comprehensive package specifically for pre-clinical drug development.

Aeterna Zentaris and Almac are entering into a research collaboration to develop a companion diagnostic to be used with Aeterna Zentaris' potential cancer drug.

The new chip, based on Affymetrix's GeneChip platform, is intended for use in studies where cross-disease compatibility is important, an attribute that Almac calls a "notable advantage" for its pharmaceutical customers.

After missing the first-to-market opportunities with KRAS, both Merck KGaA and Amgen are strategically looking into additional gene markers, with the likely aim of being able to launch companion tests to their drugs that are more sensitive and accurate than the competition.

The deal is the latest in a string of agreements that have paired the Disease Specific Array maker with major pharmaceutical companies to develop biomarkers that can later be used in companion diagnostics.

The partners will assess potential biomarkers, beyond KRAS, of response to cancer drug cetuximab (Erbitux).

Citing ongoing demand from the pharmaceutical industry and biotech firms, an Almac Diagnostics executive said that the company plans to expand its bioinformatics team next year beyond its current headcount of 20 staffers.

The Craigavon, UK-based company said that it opened the facility in response to an increase in the number of clinical trial-related projects it has commenced with biopharmaceutical companies.

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The American Prospect writes that the pilot program to test the DNA of migrants could lead to more family separations.

An international commission is to develop a report on how researchers, clinicians, and regulators should evaluate the clinical applications of human germline genome editing.

The US Department of Agriculture presents a new blueprint for animal genomic research.

In Genome Research this week: repetitive element deletion linked to altered methylation and more in form of muscular dystrophy; human contamination in draft bacterial and archaeal genomes; and more.