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PPD, Merck, Gates Foundation, DNAPrint, Trace Genetics, FDA, Ingenuity, NIH, Shanghai Genomics, GNI


Merck Taps PPD as 'Preferred Provider'
For Proteomic Biomarker Discovery

PPD said this week that it has been selected as Merck's "preferred provider" for protein biomarker analysis.

Under the terms of the agreement, PPD will analyze Merck samples with its proprietary proteomic analysis platform to identify candidate biological markers for its therapeutic business.

Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

A PPD spokeswoman said the agreement has extended the collaboration to PPD following its acquisition of SurroMed in January, but the relationship with Merck is non-exclusive.

SurroMed had an ongoing collaboration with Merck for its biomarker discovery services. "We had a relationship and we're taking it one step further," the PPD spokesperson said.

PPD said that its technology can be used to analyze samples for novel or known biomarkers, in the presence or absence of a drug, in order to evaluate the efficacy of the drug.

Gates Foundation Supports 'Fast Track'
Development of Proteome Systems' TB Dx

The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said that it has signed a letter of intent with Australian biotech Proteome Systems to "fast track" the development of a rapid antigen-based diagnostic test for active tuberculosis.

FIND announced the collaboration this week at BIO 2005 in Philadelphia.

Proteome Systems' test is expected to detect TB antigens indicating active TB infection in the human body. The test will also monitor disease progression and response to treatment in TB patients regardless of the immune status of the host, FIND said.

Stephen Porges, Proteome Systems' CEO, said that the partnership with FIND "will provide the critical support to speed the development of the test in addition to clinical material, assistance with clinical trials and fast tracking of registration, in return for exclusive royalty-free rights to distribute the product in the public health sector in developing countries."

DNAPrint Acquires Trace
Genetics in All-Stock Deal

DNAPrint Genomics has acquired Trace Genetics in an all-stock transaction, DNAPrint said this week.

Shareholders in Trace Genetics, a provider of services for forensics and geneology reserach, exchanged all outstanding shares of Trace for 25 million shares of DNAPrint common stock and options to purchase 5 million additional shares at $0.02 per share, DNAPrint said.

DNAPrint trades on the over-the-counter bulletin board. The company's stock closed at $0.01 yesterday, and remained unchanged following the announcement.

DNAPrint, based in Sarasota, Fla., said that the acquisition of the San Francisco-based Trace will provide it with an operating base on the West coast. Trace also brings two complementary technologies — y-chromosome testing and mitochondrial x-chromosome testing — to DNAPrint's genealogy products, DNAPrint said.

FDA to use Ingenuity Pathways Analysis
For Review of Pharmacogenomics Data

Ingenuity said this week that the US Food and Drug Administration has licensed its Ingenuity Pathways Analysis platform for use in the review of pharmacogenomics data submissions.

The FDA and Ingenuity will collaborate on merging Ingenuity's data and software suite with the FDA's ArrayTrack informatics system using a new integration module in Ingenuity Pathways Analysis.

ArrayTrack, a microarray data-management and -analysis system, was developed by the FDA's Center for Toxicoinformatics at the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR). Further details of the system are available here.

Last August, the FDA integrated another pathway database, PathArt from Jubilant Biosys, into ArrayTrack.

NIH Awards Four Microarray Centers
$25M for Neuroscience Research

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a consortium of four microarray core facilities a total of $25 million over five years to support gene expression analysis as part of the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint.

The centers in the NIH Neuroscience Microarray Consortium are located at the University of California at Los Angeles, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, Yale University, and Duke University. Each center provides access to different array platforms.

The Microarray Consortium supports around 10,000 investigators, according to a statement issued by TGen. It was initially funded in 2002 with $9 million from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Mental Health. The new award is supported by these two institutes as well as thirteen other NIH Neuroscience Blueprint institutes.

The consortium worked with 5 AM Solutions, a software company based in Phoenix, Ariz., to create a central database for the data it is generating. Further information about the consortium is available here.

China's Shanghai Genomics Merges with
Japan's GNI; Combined Firm Raises $13M

Japan's Gene Networks International (GNI) said this week that it has merged with China's Shanghai Genomics.

GNI said that it concurrently raised a private equity round of financing of more than $13M led by Nomura, Healthcare Partners, and several other US and Japanese private equity firms.

GNI uses gene regulatory network maps and systems pharmacology techniques to develop therapeutic pharmaceutical products internally and in partnerships with other pharmaceutical firms. The company, which has offices in Japan, the UK, and the US, said that it will benefit from Shanghai Genomics' "Western-quality discovery research, preclinical development, and contract research services to facilitate cost-efficient drug development, faster revenue generation and, ultimately, profitability for the united company."

The combined company will have a research staff of more than 80 employees in Japan, China, and the UK, and several drug candidates in clinical and pre-clinical development, GNI said.


Filed under

The Scan

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.

US Survey Data Suggests Ancestry Testing Leads Way in Awareness, Use of Genetic Testing Awareness

Although roughly three-quarters of surveyed individuals in a Genetics in Medicine study reported awareness of genetic testing, use of such tests was lower and varied with income, ancestry, and disease history.

Coral Genome Leads to Alternative Amino Acid Pathway Found in Other Non-Model Animals

An alternative cysteine biosynthesis pathway unearthed in the Acropora loripes genome subsequently turned up in sequences from non-mammalian, -nematode, or -arthropod animals, researchers report in Science Advances.

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.