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NIH, Genaissance, US Justice Department and UNTHSC, Charles River Labs and GenOway, GE Healthcare and Dharmacon, Fluidigm and CIA, SuperArray Bioscience and Eurogentec, and Lynx Therapeutics and Solexa

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NIH Seeks SBIR Grant Proposals to Develop High-throughput Screening Tools; $200K, $400K Grants Available

The National Institutes of Health is seeking research proposals for projects focused on developing instrumentation to improve the efficiency and boost the capabilities of molecular-library high-throughput-screening systems, according to a program announcement issued last week.

The program looks to fund the development of high-throughput screening instrumentation that “is not only faster and more efficient than currently available systems, but [is] also substantially more sensitive with high levels of specificity, reproducibility, and accuracy,” the proposal announcement states.

Examples of potential research areas include novel automated instrumentation for sample maintenance, disbursement, and tracking; innovative methods for highly parallel ligand-/target-binding detection; innovative microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip technologies; and improved cell-based high-content assay formats to acquire many outputs in parallel.

The program announcement said that the NIH is accepting requests for phase I project budgets of up to $200,000 per year for up to two years, and phase II project budgets of up to $400,000 per year for up to two years. However, the agency said that “no funds have been specifically set aside for this program,” and that “the number of awards and the amount of funds provided for awards have not been predetermined.”

Eligibility is limited to small business concerns, according to the PA. Individuals capable of carrying out the proposed research are invited to work with their institutions to develop a project application for funding, it adds.

Applications are being accepted on April 1, Aug. 1, and Dec. 1, said the NIH.


Genaissance Hopes to Pocket $6M In Private Stock Placement

Genaissance Pharmaceuticals expects to pocket $6 million in a private placement of 3.55 million shares of newly issued common stock, and warrants for another 3.55 million shares to undisclosed institutional investors and other accredited investors, the firm said last week.

The New Haven, Conn.-based pharmacogenomics company said that it plans to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, including the repayment of debt.

The private placement, which the company said it expects to close this week, comes after announcing two weeks ago a layoff (see GenomeWeb, 11/10/2004) of 10 percent of its workforce in an attempt to reach break even from operations.


US Justice Department Awards $1.9M to UNTHSC DNA Identity Lab

The University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth said this week that the US Justice Department awarded it five grants totaling more than $1.9 million, to be applied to projects related to UNTHSC’s DNA Identity Laboratory.

The largest grant, worth $750,000, will be used for an 18-month project focused on DNA testing of unidentified remains and family reference samples, UNTHSC said.

Other awards include $415,000 toward creating “more efficient methods of collecting DNA samples by developing standardized sample collection kits,” and $250,000 toward analyzing “new methods of testing DNA that may provide more conclusive results in mass disaster identification,” according to an official statement.

As many as 40,000 remains throughout the US are unidentified, UNTHSC said.


Charles River Labs, GenOway to Co-Market Genetically Modified Research Models in Europe

Charles River Laboratories and France-based GenOway will speed availability of genetically modified research models to their customers in Europe, the companies said this week.

Under the terms of the three-year agreement, Charles River Labs will market and promote GenOway’s processes for developing research models, which include gene-expression and gene-inactivation techniques for mouse and rat models, the companies said.

Charles River Labs, which is based in Wilmington, Mass., said that it will market GenOway’s technology to clients of its European Transgenic Services business. GenOway is based in Lyon.

The companies estimate that the agreement will result in a 45-percent shorter development time for such models while using the same budget as classical models, according to a statement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.


GE Healthcare Will Exclusively Distribute Dharmacon’s RNAi Products in Japan

GE Healthcare will be the exclusive distributor of RNAi research products for Dharmacon in Japan, the companies said this week.

Customers in Japan will be able to order Dharmacon products directly from GE Healthcare. GE’s sales and technical staff will be trained to support Dharmacon’s RNAi product line.

Dharmacon, a subsidiary of Fischer Scientific International, is based in Lafayette, Colo.


Fluidigm Receives CIA Venture Funding to Develop Microfluidics for DNA Detection

Fluidigm has received funding from a CIA-funded venture group to develop new microfluidics technology for DNA detection, the company said this week.

In-Q-Tel, the not-for-profit venture group, will pay South San Francisco-based Fluidigm upfront and milestone fees and make an equity investment in the company. The funding will help Fluidigm to develop its integrated fluidic circuits technology, which can be used to collect and analyze DNA sequence information.

Fluidigm plans to develop two different IFC architectures, one that improves detection sensitivity, and another one that will enable users to detect specific sequences with high confidence using less sample.


SuperArray Inks Microarray Deal with Eurogentec

SuperArray Bioscience this week said that its cDNA GEArray-focused DNA microarray platform will be used by Eurogentec for product development.

Under the terms of the deal, Eurogentec may purchase cDNA microarray and accessory kit inventory from SuperArray under a regionally exclusive OEM agreement, SuperArray said.

Eurogentec may repackage the raw material as a unique Eurogentec product and then independently promote, market, sell, and distribute the product to its customer base in the European Union.

Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.


Lynx CEO Resigns As Company Proceeds With Solexa Merger

Kevin Corcoran has resigned as CEO, president, and director of Lynx Therapeutics “to pursue another business opportunity,” Lynx said last week.

He will be replaced by Mary Schramke, Lynx’s vice president of product development, who will become acting CEO on Dec. 15. She will lead the company as it proceeds with its merger with Solexa. Schramke holds a PhD in microbiology from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, and an MBA from John F. Kennedy University.

Corcoran spent nine years at Lynx, working in various managerial positions, and was responsible for the company’s short read DNA sequencing technology.

Lynx and Solexa are scheduled to merge during the first quarter of 2005. The companies had originally planned to tie the knot during the fourth quarer of 2004.

Filed under

The Scan

More Boosters for US

Following US Food and Drug Administration authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Washington Post writes.

From a Pig

A genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a human without triggering an immune response, Reuters reports.

For Privacy's Sake

Wired reports that more US states are passing genetic privacy laws.

Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.