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"It might not necessarily be an in vitro diagnostic that's going to hit the market," a Merck researcher said of the company's mass spec-based biomarker assays, "but it can certainly help us make decisions as we move a drug to market."

The technique could be used to diagnose diseases such as mental retardation, where copy number variation is a key characteristic, and as a screening tool to look for cancer biomarkers and assess drug effectiveness, the researchers said.

A Microsoft official said that bioinformatics vendors should not see the software giant's entry in the market as a threat, but an opportunity to focus on their "specialized functionality for the science" and "let Microsoft focus on the infrastructure."

The Microsoft Biology Foundation includes parsers for common bioinformatics file formats; various algorithms for manipulating DNA, RNA, and protein sequences; and a set of connectors to key bioinformatics web services such as the National Center for Biotechnology Information's Blast.

The new employees will be critical for a contract Ceiba recently signed with Merck that made it the sole provider of software maintenance and support for Rosetta Biosoftware products. The company also plans to develop its own bioinformatics products in the area of translational research.

The Bangalore software firm will partner with the Microsoft biomedical information technology alliance.

By year's end, NuGen plans to launch an RNA-seq sample-preparation kit that allows users to start with less material, and plans to add "many more products for NGS in the near future."

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The agreement includes Merck's gene expression lab and five years of genomics services worth $145 million.

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An analysis of UK Biobank data finds hemochromatosis to be more prevalent than thought, according to the BBC.

An analysis finds that female biomedical researchers receive fewer prizes than male ones, and when they do win prizes, they are less prestigious.

In Nature this week: improved genomic analysis using a graph genome reference, tumor mutational burden could predict clinical response to immune checkpoint inhibitors, and more.

Federal researchers tell the Los Angeles Times that the shutdown is causing missed research opportunities as they try to keep their experiments going.