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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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Bioethicists disagree with a research team's decision to allow the return of risk results for adult-onset conditions from a newborn sequencing project, according to Reuters.

Alterations to particular gene may enable the Quechua of Peru to better tolerate high-altitude life, Ars Technica reports.

Nature News reports that additional South Korean researchers have included the names of children on scientific papers when they did not contribute to the work.

In PLOS this week: statistical approach to prioritize rare variant searches, gene expression alterations in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and more.