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Exiqon, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, CombiMatrix, DxS, FivePrime Therapeutics

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Exiqon to Seek out Breast Cancer Biomarkers with MD Anderson
 
Exiqon will seek microRNA biomarkers for breast cancer through a collaboration with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the company said this week.
 
Under the collaboration, the Danish company Exiqon will use its miRCURY LNA locked nucleic acid nucleotide products to discover microRNA biomarkers for the Kleberg Center for Molecular Markers at the cancer center.
 
The collaboration is focused on identifying miRNA expression signatures associated with the relapse and progression of breast cancer, and Exiqon aims to develop and validate diagnostic tools that could be used to guide patient management.
 
Gordon Mills, who is director of the Kleberg Center, said the collaboration is part of the center’s efforts to unify DNA, RNA, and protein approaches in developing molecular markers that could help advance cancer treatment.
 

 
Federal Court Says Insurance Firm Must Pay CombiMatrix $35.7M Award
 
The US District Court for the Central District of California has entered a final judgment in favor of CombiMatrix for $35.7 million, to be paid by the National Union Fire Insurance Company, CombiMatrix said last week.
 
In February, the court sided with CombiMatrix in its suit against National Union, which claimed that the insurance firm had refused to defend and indemnify CombiMatrix under its director and officer’s insurance policy.
 
On April 23, the court awarded CombiMatrix an additional $3.6 million in attorneys' fees and litigation costs, increasing the overall award to $35.7 million.
 
This award was entered as a final judgment on May 22.
 
CombiMatrix said in a statement that it “will take all reasonable efforts to collect this award, including interest, from National Union.”
 

 
DxS to Expand Manufacturing Facility to Meet Demand for K-RAS Companion Dx
 
DxS said last week that it plans to double the size of its Manchester, UK, manufacturing facility and to hire an undisclosed amount of new staff “over the coming months.”
 
The company said that the increase in capacity is the result of growing demand for its TheraScreen K-RAS assay, which determines patients’ K-RAS mutation status.
 
DxS said that the assay is the “preferred method” for K-RAS mutation screening for Amgen's Vectibix colorectal cancer therapy.
 
Stephen Little, CEO of DxS, said in a statement that sales of the K-RAS companion diagnostic for Vectibix “have increased radically over the last six months, necessitating an up-scaling in our manufacturing facilities.”
 
The company said that it has also been awarded the ISO 13485:2003 quality certification for the "design, development, and manufacture of molecular diagnostic products for human genetic analysis.”
 

 
FivePrime, Pfizer Team on Cancer, Diabetes Research
 
FivePrime Therapeutics said last week that it will use its protein library in cell-based assays and in vivo screens to find antibody targets and therapeutic protein candidates for Pfizer.
 
San Francisco-based FivePrime said that it would receive an up-front payment and equity investment from Pfizer and three years of committed research funding. In return, Pfizer gets exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize certain products and targets discovered during the research term. The New York-based drug company also would pay FivePrime royalties and milestone payments. Further terms and financial details were not disclosed.
 
FivePrime also said that its existing investors made a co-investment in conjunction with Pfizer’s equity purchase, though it did not disclose the details of that investment.

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The Scan

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.

EHR Quality Improvement Study Detects Demographic-Related Deficiencies in Cancer Family History Data

In a retrospective analysis in JAMA Network Open, researchers find that sex, ethnicity, language, and other features coincide with the quality of cancer family history information in a patient's record.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Gut Microbiome Community Structure Gradient in Meta-Analysis

Bringing together data from prior studies, researchers in Genome Biology track down microbial taxa and a population structure gradient with ties to ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.