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Almac

The firm will offer a range of customizable bioinformatics and biostatistics solutions to help with biomarker discovery and development, exploratory analysis, mechanistic and functional analysis, traditional and next-generation sequencing data analysis, biostatistics, and data integration.

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.

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The Guardian reports that some UK physicians are calling for increased regulation of direct-to-consumer genetic tests.

US tax agency says 23andMe's genetic health test can be claimed as a medical expense for tax purposes, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Two Democratic lawmakers argue at USA Today that independent science is under attack by the Trump Administration.

In PLOS this week: networks of genes co-expressed in depression, role of minichromosome maintenance genes in lung adenocarcinoma, and more.