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Lynx Therapeutics, Affymetrix, Epoch Biosciences, US National Institutes of Health, MWG Biotech, Department of Energy, Integrated Genomics, Beckman Coulter, First Genetic Trust, Expression Analysis

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Lynx to Help NIMH Study Gene Expression in Human Brains

Lynx Therapeutics has signed a service contract with the National Institute of Mental Health to study gene expression in the brain, the company said last week.

Specifically, researchers at the NIMH’s Genes, Cognition, and Psychosis program will use Lynx’s Massively Parallel Signature Sequencing technology to analyze gene expression in a region of the brain implicated in schizophrenia. Lynx will receive payments for its services on samples provided by NIMH.


Affy will Launch ParAllele’s Genotyping Tools in July

Affymetrix will market and distribute genotyping products made by ParAllele Bioscience for use with Affy’s microarrays, the companies said last week.

Under the non-exclusive agreement, ParAllele will design assays and manufacture its MegAllele genotyping reagent kits and software, which Affymetrix will market for use with its GeneChip Tag arrays and instruments.

Initially, the genotyping kits, to be formally launched in July, will include custom panels of 3,000 to 5,000 SNPs and standard panels of up to 10,000 pre-selected SNPs. Over time, the companies plan to add additional products.


Epoch Biosciences, Celera Diagnostics Expand License for Probe Technologies

Epoch Biosciences has expanded its licensing agreement with Celera Diagnostics for two of its probe technologies, Epoch said last week.

The amended agreement expands Celera’s rights to include into selected infectious disease products Epoch’s minor groove binder technology, also known as MGB, and its quencher technology, called Dark Quencher.


NHGRI’s Collins Considering Launching ‘Very Large’ Population Genetic Study

The US National Institutes of Health last week said it might organize and launch a “very large prospective population-based study of genes and environment.”

Francis Collins, head of the National Human Genome Research Institute, said his center has brought together a “working group of geneticists, statisticians, epidemiologists, and ethicists … to begin exploratory planning.”

The study, which Collins expects will involve around 500,000 research participants, will strive to: “identify major susceptibility factors for common diseases; determine true population risk of genetic variants; determine effects of environmental factors; and identify significant interactions between genetic and environmental factors.”

He added: “A key factor in the success of the study will be to ensure that the study design addresses the needs and interests of diverse communities.” Additional information can be found here.


MWG Biotech to Open Subsidiary in India Next Month; Expects $3 Million in Revenue

MWG Biotech will open a subsidiary in India June 1, the Ebersberg, Germany-based company said last week.

The new production and sales unit in Bangalore will eventually offer all of MWG’s products and services in the Asia-Pacific region. Initially, it will produce and sell HPSF oligonucleotides and sequencing products, and offer a hybridization service.

MWG said it expects the division to generate €2.5 million ($3 million) in revenues from sales of oligonucleotides in 2005.


Trying Not to Encroach on NIH Turf, DOE’s Genomes to Life Changes Name

The Department of Energy's Genomes to Life program has changed its name to Genomics: GTL, according to a DOE official.

Ari Patrinos, director of biological and environmental research at the DOE, said the project changed its name after members of a congressional subcommittee that oversees the US National Institutes of Health voiced concern that the original name may lead people to infer that the program deals with human biology — traditionally an NIH endeavor, and not a DOE responsibility.

Patrinos stressed that “the GTL program is focused on energy applications” such as bioremediation, clean energy production, and carbon sequestration, and said the overall goals and mission of Genomes to Life have not changed.

He said the name change began several months ago, and that it is a gradual process. “It hasn't been an abrupt change,” he said.

The name still appears in many places — for instance, the Genomics: GTL website address still reads www.doegenomestolife.org — and “a lot of people still use” the old name, said Patrinos.

Some members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, an authorizing group that has jurisdiction over NIH programs, “were concerned that the name of the [Genomes to Life] program made it sound, at least to them, that it was an NIH program,” Patrinos told GenomeWeb News, Pharmacogenomics Reporter’s sister publication, this week. “For the purposes of clarification, they encouraged us to change the name.” The DOE is overseen by the House Energy and Water Committees.

He said the new name is a “more neutral term that does not necessarily have any particular affiliation with a specific agency.”


Integrated Genomics Raises Over $1M in VC Round; Plans to Develop Microbial arrays

Integrated Genomics has raised more than $1 million in a venture capital financing round, the Chicago-based company said last week.

Integrated did not disclose the exact funding amount, or even the investor. It plans to use the cash to expand its business, particularly in the area of metabolic engineering.

The company, which specializes in the industrial use of microorganisms, also plans to develop microarrays for quality control and process optimization for particular industries, according to Kathe Andrews-Cramer, Integrated’s director for business development.


Beckman Coulter Founder, Arnold Beckman, Dies at 104

Arnold Orville Beckman, founder and chairman emeritus of Beckman Coulter, died May 18 at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, Calif. He was 104, and died in his sleep, according to the company.

He is survived by his son, Arnold Stone Beckman; daughter, Patricia Beckman; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife Mabel Meinzer Beckman died in 1989.

Beckman, who was born on April 10, 1900, in Cullom, Ill., founded Beckman Instruments in 1935 and began selling a pH meter, which was one of his first inventions. The product earned him a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1987. In total, Beckman registered 14 patents.

He was also a philanthropist. Through the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, which he formed with his wife, Mabel, in 1977, Beckman contributed more than $400 million to help support scientific research and education, Beckman Coulter said.

Beckman received the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, and his pH meter, one of his first inventions, was designated as a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society. US President Ronald Reagan presented him with the 1988 National Medal of Technology and the 1989 Presidential Citizens Medal, and President George HW Bush awarded him the 1989 National Medal of Science. In 1999, Beckman received the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.

Beckman earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a master’s degree in physical chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received a doctorate in photochemistry from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., where he taught between 1928 and 1940.


First Genetic Trust Pens PGx Collaboration with Glaxo

First Genetic Trust will apply its enTrust genetic banking platform in a research collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline to study the relationship between genetic variations and certain adverse drug reactions, the companies said this week.

FGT said that GSK will use enTrust to collect, store, and manage patient enrollment, informed consent, and clinical data to support the project.

The system will also be used to re-contact patients online for additional consent for new research or phenotypic information, FGT said.

The firms penned a similar collaboration in October 2001. A company spokesman said that the current agreement marks an entirely new study, rather than an extension of the previous one, which focused on developing the platform.

“Now we're using the platform to do another study,” the spokesman said. FGT was unable to provide further details on the new study.


Expression Analysis Claims GLP Compliance for Affymetrix Services

Microarray-service provider Expression Analysis has met all the requirements for compliance with the US Food and Drug Administration's good laboratory practice regulations, the company said this week.

EA said it took two years to develop and implement standard operating procedures, equipment and process validations, training, internal audits, and document control measures to meet the FDA's 21 CFR Part 58 guidelines for nonclinical laboratory studies.

According to EA, it is now "the first company capable of providing Affymetrix GeneChip processes performed in compliance with GLP regulations."

EA has already collaborated with the FDA as part of the agency’s effort to standardize microarray data used in regulatory submissions. Steve McPhail, EA’s CEO, said in a statement that GLP compliance was “a logical next step” for the Durham, NC-based firm.

Filed under

The Scan

Two J&J Doses

Johnson & Johnson says two doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provides increased protection against symptomatic COVID-19, CNN reports.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Response in Kids

The Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in a lower-dose format appears to generate an immune response among children, according to the Washington Post.

Chicken Changes to Prevent Disease

The Guardian writes that researchers are looking at gene editing chickens to help prevent future pandemics.

PNAS Papers on Siberian Dog Ancestry, Insect Reproduction, Hippocampal Neurogenesis

In PNAS this week: ancestry and admixture among Siberian dogs, hormone role in fruit fly reproduction, and more.