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Polygenyx, Toshiba, Schering Plough, TGen, IGC, Europroteome, Minerva Biolabs, Affymetrix, ViroSeq


Polygenyx Awarded $997,673 SBIR Grant to Develop Haplotyping System

PolyGenyx, a tiny Worcester, Mass., haplotyping startup, said this week it has received a $997,673 Phase II Small Business Innovative Research grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute.

The company plans to use the two-year grant on further development of HaploScan, its haplotyping platform, and develop haplotyping assays for the platform that can be commercialized.

The technology, based on the Luminex 100 microbead system, requires less than one hour for users to haplotype samples that involve two-SNP or multi-SNP haplotpyes, co-founder John Landers told SNPtech Reporter earlier this year. (See the article in SNPtech Reporter, 02-28-03).

The company adapted the technology for the Luminex platform in a previous $99,968 Phase I SBIR grant it received from the NIH in fiscal year 2002.

Toshiba to Use its DNA Chip in HIV Pharmacogenomics Study

Toshiba and the Institute of Human Virology will study ways in which a pharmacogenomics technology developed by the Japanese electronics giant can be used to improve the efficacy of HIV drugs, the partners said today.

The project, funded by the state of Maryland and the Tokyo-based Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute, will rely on Toshiba’s electrochemical DNA chip, which the company said is smaller, and thus less expensive, than similar technologies.

Around two years ago Toshiba participated in a study that applied the chip to hepatitis C. The HCV chip, developed with the GeneCare Research Institute, was designed to analyze SNPs rather than pinpoint gene exression, and was meant to help predict the effectiveness of interferon in individual patients. The company also intended it to help identify better treatment regimes. Toshiba and the IHV now hope to apply it HIV therapies.

Schering Expands Target Validation Collaboration with Atugen to Include RNAi

Schering Plough has extended a collaboration with Atugen to validate drug targets associated with cancer.

The companies have been collaborating for six years so far, and have relied on Atugen’s KnockDown technology. The new agreement adds two more years to the partnership, and has been expanded to include Atugen’s RNA interference technology.

Atugen, of Berlin, will develop its GeneBloc antisense molecules and/or siRNA molecules, which are designed to inhibit expression of drug target candidates selected by Schering. Atugen also will analyze the effects of the knockdown to validate gene function and disease association.

TGen, IGC Break Ground On Future Phoenix Home

More than 350 guests, including Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, attended a ceremony in downtown Phoenix last week to begin construction on the future home of the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the International Genomics Consortium.

The six-story, 170,000-square-foot building (see it here: is the first planned for a larger biotech complex called the Phoenix Bioscience Center at Copper Square. The project is estimated to cost no more than $46 million. The facility should be ready for occupancy by November 2004, according to TGen.

Europroteome to Develop Breast Cancer Diagnostics with German Consortium

Europroteome of Hennigsdorf, Germany, has signed a research collaboration with a consortium of German academic centers to develop proteomics-based diagnostics for breast cancer.

Europroteome will analyze protein expression patterns for several hundred serum samples of breast cancer patients provided by GENICA (the Interdisciplinary Study Group on Gene Environment Interaction and Breast Cancer in Germany), a national scientific network of cancer researchers in Germany.

The goal of the collaborative project is to develop novel non-invasive and blood-based screening tests to identify early-stage breast cancer.

Europroteome will correlate protein expression patterns in the serum samples with medical outcome data. The company said it recently conducted a similar study with the University of Magdeburg to use protein patterns for the identification of patients in early stages of stomach and colon cancer.

The first results from the GENICA project are expected over the next couple of months, Europroteome said.

Minerva Biolabs Licenses DxS Genotyping System for SARS Diagnostic Development

British genotyping concern DxS has licensed its Scorpions PCR-based genotyping technology to German molecular diagnostics firm Minerva Biolabs.

Minerva will use the fluorescence-based nucleic acid-detection system to help it develop a real-time PCR diagnostic test for the SARS virus. Minerva has already developed Scorpions-based diagnostics for Legionella and Mycoplasma.

DxS CEO Steve Little said the company is “currently in discussion with a number of other international diagnostics companies with regards to technology licenses in addition to continuing to build our genotyping services business.

Affymetrix API To Improve Platform Interoperability

Rosetta Biosoftware has licensed the application-programming interfaces for Affymetrix’s software systems and data files. The license is meant to improve interoperability between Rosetta’s software and the Affy microarray platform.

Rosetta will also redistribute GeneChip microarray pattern files with its Resolver and Luminator systems, which the company said will allow mutual customers to more conveniently load and analyze GeneChip array experimental data.

ViroSeq Gets FDA Clearance for use on ABI’s 3700 DNA Analyzer

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted Celera Diagnostics an additional marketing clearance for the company’s ViroSeq HIV-1 genotyping system, a molecular diagnostic, the company said this week.

The 510(k) clearance covers the use of the ViroSeq system with the ABI Prism 3700 DNA analyzer, a product sold by Celera of Alameda, Calif., a joint venture between Applied Biosystems Group, Celera Genomics of Applera, and Abbott Laboratories. Abbott distributes the test, which is used to monitor and treat HIV infection.

The FDA cleared the ViroSeq system for marketing in December 2002 as an in vitro diagnostic. ViroSeq uses DNA sequencing technology to identify strains of the HIV-1 virus, targeting regions of the viral genome associated with drug-resistant mutations.

Some 150,000 HIV genotyping tests are conducted each year, according to Celera.


Filed under

The Scan

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Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.