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Orchid Inks DNA Testing Contract with New Zealand

Orchid BioSciences Europe will provide DNA testing services to the New Zealand’s immigration authorities, parent company Orchid BioSciences said this week.

Under the 3-year contract — which is potentially renewable for two years — Orchid will test DNA samples from applicants seeking residency in New Zealand to determine their biological relationships to family members.

DNA testing will be applied to applicants from countries with record systems that do not satisfy the requirements of the New Zealand Immigration Service.

Orchid BioSciences Europe, based in Abingdon, UK, already provides immigration DNA testing for the United Kingdom and Norway.


Gene Logic Garners NCI Contract For Preclinical Toxicology Studies

Gene Logic last week was tapped by the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis to provide it with preclinical safety and pharmacology studies pertinent to its core cancer, AIDS, and AIDS-related illness research.

Terms of the deal call for Gene Logic to use its toxicogenomics platform to perform preclinical in vivo studies related to drug toxicity. The agreement, which is funded by NCI, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services, will pay Gene Logic up to $6.9 million over the next seven years.

This announcement follows several other government contracts awarded to Gene Logic over the last six months, including a multiyear contract with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a one-year contract with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and an extension with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


Interleukin Genetics to Build CLIA-Approved DNA-Testing Lab

Interleukin Genetics will use a newly expanded facility to build a CLIA-certified DNA laboratory to process DNA tests that it plans to launch next year.

The Waltham, Mass.-based facilities will grow from 6,000 to 19,000 square feet, the company said.


Sankyo Pharma to Help Outfit U of Buffalo’s Pharmacy School With PGx Technologies

Part of a $100,000 grant from Japanese drug maker Sankyo Pharma will go to help the University of Buffalo’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to buy “new analytical equipment” for pharmacogenomics research, according to a local media report.

The rest of the money by the Edison, NJ-based division of Sankyo Pharma will help pay for teaching and training at the pharmaceutical department, the Buffalo Reporter said.

Daniel Salazar, senior director of clinical pharmacology and pharmacokinetics for Sankyo, helped organize the deal. He is a graduate of the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy.


Cepheid to Distribute PCR Systems in Brazil, Mexico

Cepheid last week said it will begin distributing its SmartCycler PCR platform in Brazil and Mexico, marking the company’s first foray into Central and South American markets.

The firm signed the multi-year distribution agreements with São Paulo-based BioAgency and Mexico City-based Bioselec. Under the terms of the agreement, BioAgency and Bioselec will provide marketing, sales, and service support for the product line.


NIH Panel Recommends Restrictions on Employee Consulting Deals with Industry

In the latest twist to the ongoing saga of whether and how the National Institutes of Health should disclose income from industry collaborations, a draft report by an NIH blue-ribbon panel is suggesting to create a rule that prohibits NIH employees from accepting stock or stock options from private companies, according to a media report last week. The committee also suggests that NIH staffers should publicly disclose all payments received from drug companies.

The draft report also recommends that the NIH bar high-ranking officials from entering into consulting deals with companies, but does not recommend that such a ban be enacted for all NIH scientists, according to the Los Angeles Times, which said it obtained a copy of the draft.

The body, the NIH Blue Ribbon Panel on Conflict of Interest Policies, met last Monday and Tuesday at the NIH Campus in Bethesda “to review and make recommendations for improving the existing rules and procedures under which NIH currently operates regarding real and apparent financial conflict of interest of NIH staff and requirements and policies for the reporting of NIH staff’s financial interests,” the NIH website states.

NHGRI director Francis Collins agrees with the nature and goals of the report: “The credibility and integrity of the NIH are critically important,” Collins told the Times. “Therefore I believe that, in the future, institute and center directors should forgo arrangements involving financial compensation from pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies.”

This was the third meeting of the panel, which is co-chaired by Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, and Norman Augustine, chairman of Lockheed Martin. Both have declined to comment to the Times until the panel could submit a final report to NIH director Elias Zerhouni in May.

If Zerhouni implements them, the panel’s recommendations would “reverse many actions” taken by the NIH in 1995 that “loosened conflict-of-interest standards” such as allowing staff scientists to spend unlimited time consulting for outside employers, with no ceiling on the resulting income,” the Times reported.

The article went on to say that Zerhouni appointed the 10-member committee after the paper reported in December that “NIH employees had accepted hundreds of payments of company fees and stock options, totaling millions of dollars.”


Agilent Donates $150,000 in Array Kits to Memphis College

Agilent technologies has donated $150,000 in microarray kits to Rhodes College, of Memphis, Tenn., for use in its biology classes, the company announced last week.

The microarrays will be used in molecular genetics and molecular biology problem-solving exercises, and to help the school plan a new interdisciplinary program in molecular genetics, cell biology and biochemistry, the company said.

Numerous students at this college of about 1,500 students go on to careers in medicine or science, and work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Agilent said. (In fact, Diyven Patel, a former researcher at St. Jude’s, has founded a microarray services firm in Memphis called Genome Explorations.)


Axon Pens Resale, Licensing Agreements with Affymetrix

Axon Instruments will supply Affymetrix with scanners for resale and has licensed scanning technology for spotted arrays from the biochip company, the firms said last week.

Terms of the multi-year resale agreement call for Axon to provide to Affymetrix customized versions of its ImageXpress 5000A automated cellular-imaging and cellular-analysis scanner, which include hardware and software jointly developed by the two companies.

In addition, Axon, based in Union City, Calif., has licensed technology from Affymetrix covering the manufacture and sale of scanners and software for spotted microarrays — but not for Affymetrix’s photolithographic microarray format.

 

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