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Cambridge University, Affymetrix, Parallele, Novation, Bayer Diagnostics, Europroteome, Abbott, National Alliance for Autism Research, TGen, Sequenom, GenTel BioSurfaces

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Cambridge University Scientists to Conduct Large-Scale Diabetes Genotyping Study Using Tools from Affymetrix, Parallele

Researchers at Cambridge University in the UK announced this week that they are conducting a genetic study of Type I diabetes using Affymetrix GeneChip arrays and Parallele Biosciences' MegAllele genotyping reagents.

The study, conducted by John Todd of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation/Wellcome Trust Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory, will use ParAllele’s panel of 10,000 non-synonymous SNPs to compare genotypes between 1,000 control samples and 1,000 diabetic samples.

This is the first stage in the analysis of over 20,000 DNA samples that have been collected from diabetes patients and their relatives. The group is using controls from the 1958 British Birth Cohort in collaboration with David Strachan of St. George's Hospital.

"This research project is the most exciting and important genetics experiment I've ever been involved in," Todd said in a statement. "We've been collecting samples for quite some time and have been waiting for a technology that would give us the genetic power we needed to commence informative studies. Using this new solution from Affymetrix and ParAllele for a genome-wide gene association study provides us with the best opportunity we've ever had to discover new disease-associated genes and polymorphisms."

This is the first research agreement to come out of a distribution partnership that Affymetrix and ParAllele signed onto in May. Under this agreement, ParAllele is designing assays and manufacturing its MegAllele genotyping reagent kits and software, which Affymetrix is marketing for use with its GeneChip Tag arrays and instruments.

The genotyping kits include custom panels of 3,000 to 5,000 SNPs and standard panels of up to 10,000 pre-selected SNPs. Over time, the companies plan to add additional products.


Novation Signs Supply Agreement for Bayer Molecular DX Products

Novation, the supply company for VHA and University HealthSystem Consortium, has signed a three-year agreement to make Bayer Diagnostics’ molecular diagnostics products available to the 2,300 hospitals served by the two healthcare alliances.

The pact covers Bayer’s Versant bDNA assays for hepatitis C and HIV, Trugene HIV-1 genotyping kits and OpenGene DNA sequencing system. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

According to a statement released by Irving, Texas-based Novation, the agreement extends to healthcare organizations that purchase supplies through HealthCare Purchasing Partners International, which markets Novation purchasing pacts to non-members of VHA and UHC.


Europroteome, Abbott Extend Breast Cancer Diagnostic Collaboration

Europroteome, based in Berlin-Hennigsdorf, Germany, announced last week that it has extended a research collaboration with Abbott Laboratories for the discovery and development of novel breast cancer diagnostic tests.

The firms extended the collaboration after reaching a project milestone. The extension triggers a milestone payment from Abbott to Europroteome.

Under the initial agreement, which was reached in February 2004, Europroteome is applying its proteomic and bioinformatic technologies to analyze serum samples from women with breast cancer. The collected data are matched with a panel of cancer markers provided by Abbott on Abbott’s automated immunoassay platforms.

Abbott Park, Ill.-based Abbott made an upfront payment to Europroteome and has an option for a royalty-bearing license to the results from the collaboration. As part of the pact, Abbott will be responsible for commercial assay development and worldwide sales and marketing.


National Alliance for Autism Research, TGen, Affy to Look for Autism Genes

The National Alliance for Autism Research announced this week that it will be collaborating with Affymetrix and the Translational Genomics Research Institute on the first phase of a newly launched study looking for the genes associated with autism.

The project, called the NAAR Autism Genome Project, calls for more than 170 genetics researchers over the next six months to collaborate on scanning the human genome for the genetic roots of autism.

The first phase of the effort, which is already underway, involves two scans of the genome to be conducted by TGen, of Phoenix, using Affymetrix hardware and equipment, said NAAR. After this first phase is completed, researchers will conduct fine mapping of the chromosomal intervals identified by the scans, followed by further examination of genetic mutations.

Specific terms of NAAR’s arrangement with Affymetrix and TGen were not disclosed. NAAR is a non-profit organization based in Princeton, NJ, and recently commited $6.2 million to fund autism research.


Sequenom, ARS to Work on Swine Identity Panel

Sequenom said this week it has signed a deal with the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture to help develop and validate a genetic marker panel for swine identification.

The agreement, which includes a Sequenom MassArray Compact system placement, is part of an ongoing relationship between the company and the agency to identify and screen disease susceptibility markers in cattle livestock and favorable breeding traits in future generations, said Sequenom.

The companies are also developing a beef carcass quality panel assay. Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.


GenTel BioSurfaces Wins $900,000 in SBIR Grants

GenTel BioSurfaces has won five SBIR grants from NIH and NSF this year, totaling $900,000, the Madison, Wis.-based company said this week.

Among other projects, GenTel received funding for developing a chip-based test kit for diagnosing allergy.

The company also said it plans to launch a protein array kit this fall.

GenTel is a spin-off company from the University of Wisconsin-Madison founded in 2000. The company, which currently has ten employees, has been developing biochips for life sciences, pharmaceutical, and diagnostics research.

In April 2003, the company raised $1.65 million in private financing. An institutional investor purchased GenTel Series A convertible preferred stock following a corporate investment on similar terms in 2001. As part of this investment, GenTel received an additional $200,000 as a Technology Development Loan from the State of Wisconsin.

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