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FivePrime, Pfizer, Lab901, Seegene, Roche, Proventys, Vermillion, CombiMatrix

FivePrime, Pfizer Team on Cancer, Diabetes Research
FivePrime Therapeutics said this 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 giant 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.

Lab901, Seegene Strike Distribution, Co-marketing Agreement
The Korean PCR diagnostics company Seegene will distribute Lab901’s ScreenTape system in the Korean market, Lab901 said this week.
Under the agreement, the two companies will co-market both the ScreenTape system and Seegene’s Seeplex products in the global market, the company said.
The Seeplex products are multiplex PCR-based tests designed to detect multiple pathogens, including those causing sexually transmitted diseases, sepsis, and pneumonia, as well asrespiratory viruses and the human papillomavirus.
Lab901’s ScreenTape system is an automated system for gel electrophoresis and is used in the analysis of DNA, RNA, and protein samples. The Edinburgh, UK-based company said the DS12 ScreenTape system was designed specifically for the Seeplex tests, and automates the analysis of Seegene’s PCR pathogen tests.

Proventys Raises $5.65M in Private Financing; Inks McKesson Alliance
Proventys said last week that it has secured $5.65 million in a Series A1 financing led by venture capital firm Burrill & Company.
The Durham, NC-based firm also said that it has signed an agreement with healthcare information technology firm McKesson, under which McKesson will incorporate Proventys’ risk prediction modules into its clinical decision support solutions. Concurrent with that agreement, the firm named Marc Owen, executive vice president of corporate strategy and business development at McKesson, to its board of directors.
“McKesson is uniquely positioned with proven clinical decision support tools that can provide the ideal platform for bringing Proventys’ advanced knowledge solutions to the point of care where they can make a real difference in clinical decision making and patient outcomes,” Owen said in a statement.
Proventys also said that it has named Timothy Thompson, formerly managing director of business development at Aetna, as its new president and CEO. Ralph Snyderman, founder and chairman of the firm, will remain chairman.
Proventys is developing risk-prediction tools using clinical data and biomarkers that it believes will enable more effective, targeted approaches to medicine.

Vermillion Cuts Q1 Loss, Prepares to File Ovarian Tumor Test with FDA
Vermillion last week reported that it had first-quarter revenues of $53,000, compared to $21,000 in the first quarter of 2007, and that it cut its net loss 20 percent year over year.
The Fremont, Calif.-based firm is developing molecular diagnostic tests and expects to file its ovarian tumor triage test, called OVA1, with the US Food and Drug Administration within the next couple of months. It also is conducting clinical trials on a test for peripheral arterial disease.
Vermillion’s first-quarter product revenues of $53,000 were from sales of its thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura test component materials to the Ohio State University Research Foundation.
The firm’s net loss for the quarter was $4.8 million, or $.76 per share, compared to a net loss of $6 million, or $1.54 per share, in the first quarter of 2007.
Vermillion’s R&D expenses decreased 5 percent to $1.9 million from $2 million, and its SG&A costs fell 27 percent to $2.7 million from $3.7 million.
The company finished the quarter with $8.3 million in cash and cash equivalents.

CombiMatrix's Q1 Revenues, Net Loss Up Sharply
CombiMatrix reported last week that its first-quarter revenues increased around 80 percent and its net loss climbed nearly 62 percent year over year.
The Mukilteo, Wash.-based microarray maker brought in revenues of $2 million for the three-month period ended March 31, compared to revenues of $1.1 million in the first quarter of 2007. Revenues from government contracts doubled to $1.1 million from $549,000, while product revenues increased to $555,000 from $440,000, and service revenues climbed to $303,000 from $85,000.
CombiMatrix’s net loss shot up to $3.4 million, or $.56 per share, from $2.1 million a year ago. There is no per-share comparison because CombiMatrix was part of Acacia Research before it was spun off in August.
CombiMatrix’s R&D expenses declined 27.8 percent to $1.3 million from $1.8 million, while SG&A costs fell 16 percent to $2.1 million from $2.5 million.
The firm had $5.5 million in cash, cash equivalents, and available-for-sale investments as of the end of the quarter.
CombiMatrix said in a statement that in order for the firm to continue operating beyond September, “we will be required to obtain capital from external sources, increase revenues and reduce operating costs.” It added that it is “evaluating a number of opportunities to increase our cash reserves.”
CombiMatrix is awaiting a final judgment in a lawsuit that it won in February against an insurance company. The court overseeing the case recently awarded CombiMatrix attorneys’ fees and litigation costs related to the suit, bringing the total amount owed to the firm to $35.7 million.

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The Scan

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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.

Estonian Biobank Team Digs into Results Return Strategies, Experiences

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics outline a procedure developed for individual return of results for the population biobank, along with participant experiences conveyed in survey data.

Rare Recessive Disease Insights Found in Individual Genomes

Researchers predict in Genome Medicine cross-population deletions and autosomal recessive disease impacts by analyzing recurrent nonallelic homologous recombination-related deletions.

Genetic Tests Lead to Potential Prognostic Variants in Dutch Children With Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Researchers in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine found that the presence of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants was linked to increased risk of death and poorer outcomes in children with pediatric dilated cardiomyopathy.