NHLBI Looking for Partners to Build Cardiovascular Biomarker Consortium
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute this week said it is seeking partners to work with its Framingham Heart Study to create a consortium that will research biomarker associated with cardiovascular disease.
The initiative, which aims to develop new diagnostics that can identify high-risk individuals, will also focus on CVD-related risk factors such as atherosclerosis, obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome.
The NHLBI will use information from 7,000 FHS subjects whose CVD risk factors are already known in order to study 150 or more “evolving or novel” biomarkers found in serum, plasma, and urine.
In a statement, the NHLBI laid out two major aims for the biomarker consortium:
First, it hopes to “identify the biochemical signature” of atherosclerosis by looking at aortic and coronary calcification, aortic plaque burden, carotid intimal-medial thickness, clinical atherosclerotic CVD, and the balance between calcification of the arteries and bone demineralization.
The second aim is to identify the biochemical signature of metabolic syndrome by studying blood pressure, obesity, visceral adiposity, dyslipidemia, impaired fasting glucose, diabetes, and insulin resistance.
In a statement, the NHLBI said it will choose the biomarkers for the study by reviewing biomarkers of atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome, and by studying genes linked to the two syndromes and those showing links with “phenotypes of interest.”
During the study, the NHLBI said, new quantitative tests will be developed that can measure circulating biomarker levels by using antibody sandwich assays and proteomic approaches that work with high-throughput applications.
The study will focus on pathways including: adhesion/chemoattraction; adipokines; cytokines; growth factors; heart shock proteins; inflammation; lipoproteins; neurohormones; thrombosis/fibrinolysis, and vascular calcification.
Before FHS specimens can be used, the NHLBI said, research partners must demonstrate “rigorous assay validation” using non-FHS samples.
The NHBLI said inquiries and letters of interest must be received by Jan. 19, 2007. General queries can be sent to Lily Portilla at [email protected] i.nih.gov. Scientific queries should be sent to Daniel Levy at [email protected].
French Agency Awards Transgene $33M for Pharmacogenomics Program
Transgene said last week that the French Agency for Industrial Innovation has awarded it €25 million ($32.7 million) to participate in a pharmacogenomics project called ADNA (Advanced Diagnostics and New therapeutic Approaches).
ADNA includes four partners — Transgene, bioMerieux, Genethon, and GenoSafe — and aims to improve personalized medicine in the fields of cancer, infectious diseases, and rare genetic diseases.
According to a statement from Transgene, the “core” of the program will be the development and validation of biomarkers to help guide the prescription of new treatments to those patients most likely to benefit from them.
The funding is subject to European Commission approval, which is expected in the second quarter of 2007, Transgene said.
The funding includes grants of €17.8 million and loans of €7.2 million refundable only in the case of success.
Faced With Illumina's Solexa Bid, Affy Says New Sequencing Shops Still too Immature to Buy
A few days after Illumina last week said it plans to buy next-generation sequencing company Solexa, rival Affymetrix said it wasn’t about to follow suit.
Speaking at the Lehman Brothers Small Cap Conference in Dana Point, Calif., on Nov. 17, four days after Illumina’s announcement, Affy CFO Greg Schiffman said the company believes that the sequencing market is still evolving and that Affy is not “going to do a highly dilutive acquisition when [it isn’t] clear who [is] going to be the winner there.”
Illumina and Affy currently compete in the genotyping and gene expression markets. By acquiring Solexa, Illumina is betting that Solexa’s next-generation sequencing technology will complement Illumina’s existing platforms and give the company a leg up in molecular diagnostics.
Ditto Affy: Last week, Doug Farrell, the company’s head of investor relations, said at the JPMorgan Small/Mid Cap Conference that sequencing technologies would be “complementary” to the firm’s GeneChip platform. But Affy and Illumina differ in that Affy does not anticipate buying its own sequencing shop, at least for the moment.
According to Schiffman, Affy believes next-generation sequencing companies are years away from generating significant revenue, and buying a sequencing platform would not fit with its acquisitions strategy.
“We would rather see these technologies develop,” Schiffman said at the Lehman Brothers conference, and the “reality is that these existing platforms are going to demand a significant amount of investment over the next three to five years.”
“I think that while these technologies are exciting, this is not a near-term revenue driver for us anyway. We think it’s just a little bit early to be placing our bets at this point,” he said.
The complete version of this article appeared in last week’s issue of Pharmacogenomics Reporter sister publication BioArray News.
Tm Bioscience Secures $4M Credit Facility
Tm Bioscience said last week that it has negotiated a $4 million operating credit facility with Laurus Master Fund.
Tm said it plans to use the funds for general operating purposes while its board of directors completes its previously disclosed review of the company’s strategic alternatives, which include the sale or merger of the company.
As of Sept. 30, Tm had around $4.7 million in cash and cash equivalents.
Net funds available to the company through the credit facility after transaction costs are around $3.85 million.
The facility, which matures on Aug. 31, 2007, is secured by a charge over Tm's assets and carries an interest rate of 7 percent.
The interest rate will decrease in relation to increases in the company's share price over the term of the facility to a minimum interest rate of 0 percent.
Scottish Genomics Lab to Use GenoLogics' Geneus, Proteus Software
A genomics facility in Scotland will use GenoLogics’ Geneus and Proteus software for its genomics and proteomics research, GenoLogics said last week.
The products will be used at the University of Glasgow’s Sir Henry Wellcome Functional Genomics Facility and the RASOR Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration, an initiative involving several British universities.
Andrew Pitt, director at SHWFGF, said he is “convinced that … software and database informatics technology complement and accelerate the use of proteomics and genomics instrumentation and technologies in order to make research advances.”
He added that hi facility will use this software to integrate instruments, which will free researchers to avoid spending time on data management issues.
Financial terms of the deal were not released
Orchid to Raise $14M in Private Placement
DNA testing company Orchid Cellmark has struck agreements with new and existing institutional investors to raise around $14 million in private equity financing, the company said last week.
Orchid said it plans to issue 4.87 million shares of stock at $2.88 apiece
It plans to use the funding for working capital and general corporate expenses.
Orchid shares fell 6 percent on the news to $3.20 in afternoon trading.
Earlier this month, Orchid reported stagnant third-quarter revenues accompanied by narrowed net losses. The company had around $12.5 million in cash and cash equivalents on the trading day the deal was announced.
Orion Genomics Announces Notice of Allowance for Novel Biomarker Discovery Platform Patent
Orion Genomics announced it has received a Notice of Allowance for a patent covering its MethylScope technology. The novel technology will allow the company to discover and quantify the DNA methylation status each gene in the human genome.
Using the technology to compare methylation profiles, Orion will be able to discover new biomarkers associated with specific diseases, particularly cancer.
“With MethylScope technology, Orion is able to conduct unprecedented genome wide DNA methylation profiling for the discovery of important cancer biomarkers using a fast and cost-effective microarray format. We have successfully used this technology to identify a suite of novel and promising biomarkers for the early detection of breast cancer, our lead product,” Orion Genomics CEO Nathan Lakey said in a release.
Orion exclusively licensed its MethylScope technology from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. According to Orion, it is the “only platform capable of detecting inappropriate DNA methylation for all human genes on a single array.”
Aetna Sets Coverage Rates for Genomic Health's Oncotype DX
Genomic Health this week said that Aetna has set payment rates for its Oncotype DX test for early-stage breast cancer patients.
Genomic Health said Aetna, which began covering the test in August, has set rates for all of its plans for breast cancer patients for the test, which quantifies the odds of breast cancer recurrence and predicts the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatment.