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Genetic Association Information Network, Affymetrix, NIH, AstraZeneca, BioWisdom, Gene Logic, GNS, M2Gen, Biomarkers Consortium, SensiGen, Sequenom

Genetic Association Information Network to Use Affy's SNP 6.0 Arrays
The Genetic Association Information Network, a public and private partnership, will use Affymetrix's Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 6.0 in genomic studies of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Affy said this week.
GAIN is run by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the National Institutes of Health, and Pfizer Global Research and Development.
Affy said GAIN scientists will use the Human SNP Array 6.0 to analyze eight thousand samples from various ethnicities.
The company also said the GAIN program will provide information it collects to researchers worldwide through the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s database of Genotype and Phenotype, or dbGaP.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

NIH Awards $3.4M for Cancer Genome Atlas Technology Development
The National Institutes of Health this week announced it has awarded eight two-year prizes worth a total of $3.4 million to support the development of new technologies for the Cancer Genome Atlas pilot program.
The Cancer Genome Atlas, a joint initiative of the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute that kicked off in late 2005, aims to "test the feasibility of a large-scale, systematic approach to identifying the changes that occur in the genomes of cancer cells," NIH said in a statement.
"The goal is to generate genomic information that the research community can use to develop new and improved strategies for detecting, treating and, ultimately, preventing cancer," NIH said.
The following investigators and institutions will use the NIH funds for a number of studies that will generate large amounts of data focused on cancer genomics:
  • Baylor College of Medicine's Aleksandar Milosavljevic will receive $413,000 to develop methods based on next-generation sequencing platforms to investigate structural variations in the genomes of cancer cells.
  • City of Hope/Beckman Research Institute's Gerd Pfeifer will receive $465,000 to study DNA methylation in cancer genomes.
  • Benjamin Tycko, of Columbia University, will receive $443,000 to use high-density oligonucleotide arrays to characterize genomic aberrations and DNA methylation.
  • Timothy Bestor, also at Columbia University, will receive $362,000 to develop methods for high-throughput of DNA methylation.
  • Johns Hopkins University's Andrew Feinberg will use $464,000 to develop new approaches for investigating allele-specific gene expression patterns.
  • Nimblegen Systems will use a $415,000 grant to use high-density oligonucleotide arrays to select genomic regions for DNA sequence analysis.
  • Stanford University's Ronald Davis will receive $429,000 to develop methods for high-throughput isolation of genomic regions for DNA sequence analysis.
  • Peggy Farnham of the University of California, Davis, will use $418,000 to develop ChIP-chip assays to study cancer-associated changes in genomic regions that are important in gene regulation, using small fragments of cancer tissue.

AstraZeneca Signs on as First Partner for BioWisdom's Toxicity Safety Program
AstraZeneca has signed a three-year agreement for BioWisdom’s Safety Intelligence Program, an initiative to develop an “intelligence system” to analyze drug safety and toxicity data for use in drug discovery and development.
BioWisdom said AstraZeneca is its first partner for the program, and as such takes a place on the firm’s SIP advisory board. 
The SIP program will support development of methods for identifying and analyzing toxicities, characterizing mechanisms of protein targets with toxic effects, predicting and evaluating potential toxicity issues, comparing species for animal models, and planning and designing clinical trials, BioWisdom said.

Gene Logic to Help H. Lundbeck Reposition, Develop Shelved Drug Candidates
Gene Logic last week said it will help H. Lundbeck reposition and develop certain drug candidates that were “discontinued” or “de-prioritized” for reasons other than safety.
Gene Logic said the deal allows for milestones and royalties similar to those paid for development-stage in-licensing deals, discounted to account for Lundbeck's contribution as the originator of the compound.
It also provides an option to license any of the candidates that Lundbeck decides not to pursue, in which case Lundbeck would receive success-based milestone and royalty payments.
Financial details were not disclosed.
Gene Logic did reveal, however, that it expects to pocket around $2.5 million from Lundbeck over the coming year from an unrelated technology licensing agreement.
Under its drug repositioning program, Gene Logic has partnerships with Abbott, Pfizer, Roche, and other pharmaceutical companies.

GNS Pens Cancer Rx-Dx-Development Alliance With Moffitt Subsidiary M2Gen
Gene Network Sciences said last week that it will use its REFSTM software in an alliance with H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center subsidiary M2Gen to develop cancer diagnostics and therapeutics
GNS will use REFSTM, which stands for reverse engineering and forward simulation, to reverse-engineer computer models from de-identified tumor molecular profiling data provided by Moffitt.
Researchers will use the models to identify genes that cause cancer progression, and the relationships between those genes and endpoints such as recurrence and survival.
The parties will “work together to validate the discoveries and will work with strategic partners to rapidly bring the diagnostics to market,” GNS said in a statement.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed

Biomarkers Consortium Launches Website to Accept Proposals, Provide Funding Updates
The Biomarkers Consortium launched a website last week that can be used to submit biomarker project concepts, to obtain funding information, as a contact point, and for updated news about the consortium’s activities.
The consortium, founded in 2006, is a research partnership managed by the National Institutes of Health and funded by contributing members. It comprises 28 public and private partners including companies, patient advocacy organizations, government groups, and non-profit institutions.
The website provides a way for researchers to submit biomarker project concepts to therapeutic area steering committees. The first three steering committees comprise experts in neuroscience, metabolic disorders, and cancer. A fourth steering committee in inflammation and immunity is being assembled.
Proposals are reviewed by the consortium’s executive committee, and if approved, the Foundation for NIH will seek the funds to implement them, the consortium said. To date, more than $6 million has been raised to support the consortium’s lung cancer and lymphoma biomarker projects.
“In time, we will expand the website’s coverage to include a members-only section, and provide comprehensive information about biomarkers, such as cutting edge research from the scientific and regulatory community,” said Anthony Altar, the consortium’s director.

SensiGen to Use Sequenom Tools to Develop Assays That the Firms Will Co-Market
SensiGen said last week it will use Sequenom’s MassArray platform and QGE gene-expression tools to continue to develop several disease assays that the companies will co-market to reference labs for an indefinite period.
The first of SensiGen’s AttoSense tests to be developed on the Sequenom platform will be an assay for human papillomavirus. The company plans to submit that test to the US Food and Drug Administration by 2009.
SensiGen plans to develop three other tests, including assays for chronic kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and lupus.
The companies said the AttoSense assay method can detect DNA from viruses, bacteria, blood, urine, and tissue.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

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