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NHGRI, BioMerieux, Bacterial Barcodes, Health Discovery Corporation, Epigenomics, Genome Explorations, CombiMatrix, Affy, Zhejiang University, U of Louisville, Solexa

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NHGRI Sets Aside $15M in RFAs for Genome-Wide Association Research
 
The National Human Genome Research Institute last week said it has set aside approximately $15 million in fiscal year 2007 under a request for applications that would support genome-wide association genotyping and replication studies.
 
The NHGRI said it would fund two to four grants to support “genotyping facilities to genotype samples from existing population, cohort, clinical, and family studies and clinical trials for genome-wide association studies of diseases and traits of substantial public health impact.”
 
NIH expects to award a total of $26 million over four years under this solicitation. The government's fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
 
The development effort is part of the Genes and Environment Initiative, a four-year NIH program proposed in the President’s fiscal 2007 budget. Currently awaiting Congressional approval, the initiative will support efforts to identify major genetic susceptibility factors for disease and to develop technologies for “reliable and reproducible measurement of potentially causative environmental exposures,” NHGRI said.
 
RFA applicants may request a project period of up to four years and a budget for direct costs up to $6 million for the full period, NHGRI said.
 
Letters of intent should be received by Nov. 1 and applications should be received by Nov. 29, according to NHGRI. Earliest anticipated start date is July 1, 2007.
 
Between this RFA and two other accompanying solicitations on genome-wide association studies, NIH anticipates funding 12-15 studies, with RFAs for six studies planned for fiscal years 2008 and 2009.
 
Additional information for the grant mechanism can be found here.
 

 
BioMerieux Acquires Microbial Genotyping Firm Bacterial Barcodes
 
BioMerieux said this week that it has acquired molecular biotechnology firm Bacterial Barcodes.
 
Bacterial Barcodes, based in Athens, Ga., has developed and markets DiversiLab, a system for automated microbial genotyping that can be used to track hospital-acquired infections, and for environmental control for product safety. 
 
“The addition of [DiversiLab to] BioMerieux's technology portfolio is perfectly aligned with the company's strategic commitment to focus on infectious diseases, as well as on industrial applications,” Eric Bouvier, president and CEO of BioMerieux’s North American operations, said in a statement.
 
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
 

 
Epigenomics Licenses Health Discovery's SVM Technology for DNA Methylation Analysis
Health Discovery Corporation said this week that Epigenomics has taken a non-exclusive worldwide license to its support vector machine technology for use in DNA methylation analysis.
 
HDC’s SVM technology is a machine-learning approach for classifying high-dimensional data. Epigenomics will use the technology in its biomarker service and collaboration business to help measure the differences in DNA methylation patterns between healthy and diseased tissues.
 
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
 
The agreement is HDC’s second SVM licensing deal in the past two months. The company signed a similar agreement with Bruker Daltonics for applications in clinical proteomics in early August.
 
Stephen Barnhill, HDC's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the two application areas of methylation and mass spectrometry analysis “underscore the scope and power of HDC's SVM technology as the leading pattern recognition tool.”
 
HDC holds a large patent portfolio protecting the use of support vector machines in bioinformatics applications. In June, the firm sued Ciphergen and Equbits for infringing its SVM patent estate. Both cases are pending in the US District Court in Marshall, Texas.
 

 
Genome Explorations Joins CombiMatrix's CombiCore Program
 
Microarray service provider Genome Explorations has joined CombiMatrix’s CombiCore access program, CombiMatrix parent company Acacia Research said this week.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, CombiMatrix has certified Genome Explorations as an authorized service provider for its CustomArray and CatalogArray products.
 
Access to CombiMatrix products will enable Genome Explorations to offer its clients “an alternative platform for gene expression and genotyping services," said Divyen Patel, CEO and founder of Genome Explorations, in a statement.
 

 
Affy, ChineseUniversity Pen Translational Genomics Alliance; Will Create Lab to Support GeneChip Research
 
Affymetrix and China’s Zhejiang University will jointly develop clinical applications for Affy's GeneChip technology, Affymetrix said this week.
 
The partners will also establish a joint laboratory to support researchers from Zhejiang University and six affiliated hospitals that use the GeneChip to analyze genomic information across large patient samples, Affy said.
 
Under the agreement, the university’s Zhejiang California Nanosystem Institute will use the array platform for certain of its research projects, beginning with cancer, newborn genetic diseases, and infectious diseases.
 
According to Affymetrix, the agreement is its first translational medicine collaboration in China.
 
Financial details were not disclosed.
 

 
U of Louisville to Host Cattle SNP Data for DNA-Based Traceback Development
 
The University of Louisville's Center for Genetics and Molecular Medicine said yesterday that it has released cattle SNP data that will be used to develop DNA-based traceback markers for beef and dairy cattle in the US and Canada.
 
The data, available here, will be used to develop genetic tests for tracing animals “from the farm to the dinner plate,” CGeMM said. The center is partnering with the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and Cogenics, a division of Clinical Data, on the project. 
 
Ted Kalbfleisch, director of bioinformatics operations at CGeMM, said in a statement that the SNP data is the “first step” in a broader data-management system under development at the center.
 
“Today we are providing access to a very specialized SNP marker set for traceback, parentage, and identification,” Kalbfleisch said, “but ultimately the project will create a web-services based system with value-added functions and the information that scientists need to write analysis tools for their particular bioinformatics systems."
 
The DNA-based traceback marker system is a collaboration between scientists at the US Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb.; the Bovine Functional Genomics Laboratory in Beltsville, Md.; the University of Alberta's Beef Genomics Laboratory in Edmonton, Canada; and Cogenics, based in Morrisville, NC.
 

 
Solexa Secures $75M Equity Financing Commitment; Cash Will Help Roll Out GAS Sequencer
 
Solexa has secured a commitment to sell $75 million in common stock to Azimuth Opportunity, the company said this week.
 
Solexa said it plans to use the cash to develop and commercialize its Genome Analysis System, for working capital, and for other general corporate purposes.
 
The commitment is for two years. During the term, Solexa may sell registered shares of its common stock to Azimuth at a small discount to the market price. The timing and amount of sales will be at Solexa’s discretion, the company said.
 
Solexa shipped its first 1G Genome Analyzers to two early-access customers in late June and has said in the past that it wants to launch the instrument widely by the end of this year.

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