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Princeton BioMeditech, Beckman Coulter, Genaissance, Cyprus, Helicos, Lee Hood, ABI, DuPont, Icoria


Princeton BioMeditech to Supply Beckman Coulter with Dx Tools

Princeton BioMeditech will supply a "wide range of rapid diagnostic tools" to Beckman Coulter's Primary Care Diagnostics business unit, Beckman said this week.

The agreement "underscores [Beckman's] growing committment to the market for rapid diagnostic medical test products," Beckman said in a statement. The diagnostic tools will be used at the point of medical care, Beckman said.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Genaissance to Provide Scrapie Genotyping for Cyprus

Genaissance Pharmaceuticals will provide scrapie genotyping services to Biotronics of Cyprus, Genaissance said this week.

Biotronics has been awarded a contract by the Cypriot government, which derives from a mandate by the European Union for establishing a breeding program in sheep that confers resistance to scrapie.

Under the contract, Genaissance will analyze at least 100,000 samples, collected by Biotronics, over approximately a three-month period.

With New Sequencing Techs Up for Grabs, Institute for Systems Biology Studies Helicos

The Institute for Systems Biology is "talking about testing" one of Helicos BioSciences' gene-sequencing prototypes, Pharmacogenomics Reporter's sister publication GenomeWeb News has learned.

"We are ... doing some collaboration with ... Helicos, which is taking us further into downstream approaches to the analysis of single DNA molecules," Lee Hood, president of the Institute, told GenomeWeb News this week during a news conference at the 12th European Congress on Biotechnology, held at the University of Copenhagen this week.

"I think [new sequencing technologies] will have a profound impact on systems biology, because systems biology starts with complete genome sequences, and they're difficult to obtain now with methods used in the past," Hood said. "With some of the new methods coming out, [such as] parallel sequencing, we can see sequencing entire microbial genomes in a few hours."

The Helicos technology relies on cyclic sequencing by synthesis, using 1.2 billion strands of DNA attached to a quartz slide to create a parallel process.

Hood said that "my guess is that within 10 years there'll be new nanotechnology approaches that will ... make the human genome well under $1,000." This is significant because most researchers recently have said it will take around five years to develop a tool to sequence an entire human genome for $1,000 or less.

The collaboration keeps it all in the family for Hood. He has been on Helicos' scientific advisory board since the company opened its doors in Cambridge, Mass., in 2003. He is also an alumnus of Caltech, where Steve Quake, Helicos' founder, was a professor. (Quake is currently a professor of bioengineering at Stanford.) This is noteworthy because George Church, who also sits on Helicos' SAB, has been developing his own sequencing platform at Harvard. Church's technology is currently licensed to Agencourt.

Another Helicos partner is Eric Lander. Helicos expects to ship an instrument to Lander's lab by the end of the year, according to Genome Technology, a Pharmacogenomics Reporter sister publication. Helicos expects to have beta instruments out by next year and a commercial system available in 2007, Genome Technology reported in July. Interestingly, the Broad Center, which Lander oversees, bought a 454 platform in March.

Hood's disclosure comes at a time when companies, academic labs, and research institutes jockey for position to align themselves with one of the dozen or so companies that have sprung up in recent years to develop faster and less costly sequencing technologies.

Most recently, the US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute has purchased a $500,000 genome sequencing system from 454, while Roche and the University Washington have separately shown an interest in 454 (though Roche has obtained exclusive rights to sell the technology for diagnostics applications).

Lee Hood Calls Cancer Genome Project Approach 'Naïve,' Says Signal-to-Noise Issues Will Confound Efforts

Lee Hood, president of the Institute for Systems Biology, has called the premise of the Cancer Genome Project "naïve," suggesting that signal-to-noise issues its researchers are likely to encounter will be "absolutely enormous."

Hood said the premise of the project — as he put it, to sequence "to a certain extent" 250 genomes from four or five cancers with the aim of correlating the genetic differences of a particular cancer — "is a naïve approach because the signal-to-noise issues ... from sequencing cancer genomes on six or seven dimensions are absolutely enormous."

"My suggestion is that we take one cancer ... from several thousand individuals ... and see if we can sort out these signal-to-noise issues," he said.

Hood made his remarks this week during a news conference at the 12th European Congress on Biotechnology, held at the University of Copenhagen. Though he did not identify the Cancer Genome Project by name — he said simply that "there is a new project that's being pushed in the US to take a ... genome approach to cancer" — Hood later confirmed with a reporter he was talking about the Project.

Hood also said "there are other parts to [the Cancer Genome Project] that will look at the common amplifications and deletions that occur in cancer; genomic instability is a big part of cancer."

The National Cancer Institute and National Human Genome Research Institute plan to contribute $50 million each to kick off an effort to collect and analyze all the genetic mutations found in human cancers.

The commitment, which still requires approval from the institutes' scientific advisory boards and councils, comes after an NCI and NHGRI-sponsored workshop held in July sought input from members of the scientific community on how best to achieve the project's goal.

The pilot phase of the effort will "focus on addressing the wide range of challenges in cancer biology and technology that must be met in order to implement a successful large-scale human cancer genome project," according to the National Institutes of Health. "The initial phases also will analyze whether the comprehensive cataloguing of the sequence changes in cancer will prove useful in understanding cancer and lead to new methods of diagnosis and treatment."

Initial work on the pilot project, which is anticipated to take three years, is set to begin in 2006.

ABI, DuPont to Co-develop Pathogen-Detection Tools for Food Industry

Applied Biosystems and DuPont Qualicon will co-develop new pathogen-detection applications for the food industry, the companies said last week.

The new products will be based on DuPont's Bax system, which uses PCR to detect microorganisms in food. ABI's TaqMan real-time PCR technology will add additional capabilities to the system, such as quantitation, strain discrimination, and detection of new organisms.

DuPont Qualicon is a DuPont business based in Wilmington, Del.

Icoria, in 'Transition,' Posts 21-Percent Slide in Q2 Revenue; Restructuring Ongoing

Icoria last week reported reduced revenues and narrowed losses for the second quarter of 2005.

Revenues declined 21 percent to $5 million from $6.3 million during the year-ago quarter. While healthcare revenues grew 11 percent, to $2.5 million, agriculture revenues declined by 39 percent, to $2.4 million, mainly due to the sale of Icoria's agricultural genomics business to Monsanto earlier this year.

R&D expenses declined to $5.5 million from $6.8 million during the second quarter of last year.

Icoria's net loss fell 16 percent, to $3 million, or $.08 per share, down from $3.6 million, or $.10 per share, for the same period last year.

"The second quarter was a period of transition for Icoria, and our financial results reflect this," said Douglas Morton, Icoria's interim CEO, in a statement. "We are working to restructure our cost base and to minimize our burn rate without impairing the operations and research activities on which Icoria is building its future."

As of June 30, Icoria had $8.7 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments.

Note to Subscribers: Pharmacogenomics Reporter will not publish on Sept. 1 or Sept. 8. The next issue of the newsletter will appear on Sept. 15.

Filed under

The Scan

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Multiple Sclerosis Contributors Found in Proteome-Wide Association Study

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