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IBM, National Geographic Society, CyVera, Illumina, Metabolon, NHBLI, Invitrogen, Agilent, European Commission


IBM and National Geographic Society to Genotype
100,000 Samples to Map Migration of Mankind

The National Geographic Society and IBM have embarked on a genotyping project to map the migration of humans throughout history, the two organizations said this week.

Under the five-year study, called "Genographic Project," researchers at 10 centers around the world will collect and analyze more than 100,000 DNA samples from indigenous populations. In addition, the general public can participate by purchasing a $99.95 kit and sending in cheek swabs. The project is led by Spencer Wells, National Geographic's explorer-in-residence.

The aim of the study is to reveal details about the history of human migration. The results will be available in a public database, although individual results will be stored anonymously.

IBM scientists at IBM's Computational Biology Center will contribute analytical technologies and data sorting techniques. The company will also provide computational knowledge and infrastructure to manage the data.

Funding for the project comes from the Waitt Family Foundation. The sale of the participation kits will help fund future field research and a project to support education and cultural preservation among participating indigenous groups.

Microbead Developer CyVera Becomes Subsidiary of Illumina

Illumina has completed its previously announced acquisition of microbead developer CyVera for $17.5 million in stock and cash, the company said this week.

Illumina acquired the Connecticut-based company for 1.6 million of its shares of common stock and $2.5 million in cash, which includes CyVera's liabilities. Illumina also assumed CyVera's outstanding stock options.

Illumina first announced in February that it intended to purchase CyVera, which is now a wholly owned Illumina subsidiary.

Metabolon Wins SBIR Grant for
ALS Biomarker Identification

Metabolon has received a Small Business Innovation Research grant for an undisclosed amount from the NIH to study biomarkers for amyotrophic later sclerosis, the company said this week.

Metabolon will use its metabolomics platform to test plasma samples obtained from patients to identify ALS biomarkers, the company said in a statement. Metabolon will then compare these biomarkers with those from other motor neuron diseases, and will study how biomarkers for the disease change with its progression.

The grant was awarded by the NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and is the third award for ALS studies Metabolon has received since the beginning of 2004.

In August, Metabolon received a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to study ALS biomarkers in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital. In February 2004, the company received an award from the ALS Association.

NHBLI Asks For Ideas On How Genetic, Genomic,
Proteomic Research Can Help Minority Institutions

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has issued a Request for Information to solicit comments and ideas on how NHBLI-supported resources in genetics and genomics can help investigators at institutions that serve people of minority ethnic backgrounds.

"Do barriers exist in the use of genetic, genomic, and proteomic research resources and information ... by investigators at MSIs?" the RFI questioned. "If so, what are the barriers? What needs should be addressed?"

More information about the RFI can be found here.

Invitrogen, Agilent to Co-Market
Pathogen-Detection System

Invitrogen and Agilent Technologies last week announced a two-year agreement to co-market the PathAlert System, a technology that combines Invitrogen reagents and Agilent's 2100 bioanalyzer or 5100 Automated Lab-on-a-Chip platforms.

Invitrogen will distribute the PCR-based technology, which as been successfully evaluated by the US Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency, the companies said.

The news comes one day after the US government held a hearing to discuss ways in which the different agencies responsible for overseeing pathogen detection can work together more effectively. As Pharmacogenomics Reporter reported last week, the outcome of this hearing could benefit companies developing pathogen-detection technologies, such as Cepheid, CombiMatrix, and now Invitrogen and Agilent.

By testing samples collected from the air, food, and water, the system may be used to detect infectious agents such as Bacillus anthracis, which causes anthrax; Yersinia pestis, which causes plague; Vaccinia, which causes smallpox simulant; and Francisella tularensis, which causes tularemia.

Financial details of the collaboration were not disclosed.

EC Commits 8.4B Euros for Health Research
Under Proposed Seventh Framework Program

The European Commission last week outlined plans for its Seventh Framework Program, an EU-wide funding mechanism that will run from 2007 to 2013.

The framework will have a total budget of around €73 billion ($94 billion) and will cover nine thematic areas: health; food, agriculture and biotechnology; information and communication technologies; nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies; energy; environment; transport; socio-economic sciences and the humanities; and security and space research.

As with the current framework, FP6, the IT thematic area has been allotted the lion's share of funding, with around €12.7 billion proposed over the seven-year funding period. Health research comes next, with around €8.4 billion in proposed funding.

Further details are available here.

Filed under

The Scan

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.