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GeneArt, Boehringer Ingelheim, Laboratory Corporation of America, OncoMethylome, Association of British Insurers, Merck, Nuevolution

GeneArt, Boehringer Ingelheim Team on DNA-based Therapeutics
Drug developer Boehringer Ingelheim and synthetic biology company GeneArt plan to co-develop DNA-based pharmaceutical agents for clinical trials that both companies will market, GeneArt said this week.
Under the agreement, GeneArt will use Boehringer Ingelheim’s technology to produce and purify plasmid DNA for use in research and for commercial purposes, and Boehringer Ingelheim will produce plasmids for the subsequent clinical trials and for sale globally.
Both companies will work together to distribute and market their complementary services, the Regensburg, Germany-based company said.
“The consistent production procedures” enabled by the collaboration will “help our customers to significantly shorten the time to market for new innovative DNA-based therapeutics and vaccines,” Rolf Werner, senior VP of Boehringer Ingelheim’s biopharmaceuticals division, said in a statement.

LabCorp to Use OncoMethylome's Methylation Reagents for CRC Screening
OncoMethylome Sciences will supply Laboratory Corporation of America with reagents used in a stool-based test for colorectal cancer, the Belgian company said this week.
OncoMethylome will sell to LabCorp reagents used to detect methylation of the Vimentin DNA marker with Methylation-Specific PCR, which can be used to detect colorectal cancer through stool-based tests from patients who are traditionally non-compliant to colorectal screening. OncoMethylome said that it will qualify for milestones linked to LabCorp’s sales of the reagents.
OncoMethylome’s gene-methylation tests are used to detect early-stage cancer, predict patient response to therapy, and to predict the chance of a cancer’s recurrence.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

UK Life Insurance Group Extends Ban on Requiring Genetic Test Information
A UK life insurance-industry group has extended through 2014 a rule designed to keep insurance customers from having to disclose genetic information obtained from predictive tests.
The Association of British Insurers agreed on June 13 to extend a moratorium that was initiated in 2001 on life insurance companies requiring results from customers..
The extension “means people can insure themselves and their families, even if they have had an adverse result from a predictive genetic test,” ABI Director General Stephen Haddrill said in a statement. He said it “has proved effective since its introduction” and that it “works well for consumers.”
The agreement to extend the moratorium through 2014 came after a scheduled review of the policy, and the next review will take place in 2011.
The moratorium covers policies worth up to £500,000 ($987,000) for life insurance and £300,000 for critical illness insurance.
Above these levels, the group said, its member insurers have agreed not to use predictive genetic tests unless the test has been approved by the government.
According to ABI, the only genetic test approved so far by the Genetics and Insurance Committee is for Huntington’s disease and is for life insurance policies valued over £500,000.

Merck Taps Nuevolution to Help Identify Drug Targets
Nuevolution said last week that it will use its DNA labeling platform to identify small-molecule leads against drug targets in a collaboration with Merck.
Copenhagen, Denmark-based Nuevolution said it will use its Chemetics platform to screen multi-million-member libraries to identify hits and to perform hit-to-lead optimization.
Under the agreement, Merck will give Nuevolution an upfront payment, research funding, and milestone payments as candidate molecules move through preclinical and clinical development and onto the market.
Nuevolution also is eligible for royalties from sales of commercialized products resulting from the collaboration.

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The Scan

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.

Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Survey participants appear to have higher genetic familiarity, knowledge, and skills compared to 2013, though 'room for improvement' remains, an AJHG paper finds.

Study Reveals Molecular, Clinical Features in Colorectal Cancer Cases Involving Multiple Primary Tumors

Researchers compare mismatch repair, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden patterns in synchronous multiple- or single primary colorectal cancers.

FarGen Phase One Sequences Exomes of Nearly 500 From Faroe Islands

The analysis in the European Journal of Human Genetics finds few rare variants and limited geographic structure among Faroese individuals.