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Transgenomic, Guangzhou Family Planning Center-China, NIH, NIAMS, GWA, Beijing Genome Institute, PentaBase, GeneNews, University of Aberdeen, AICR

Transgenomic Opening PGx Services Lab in China
Transgenomic said this week it has entered into a laboratory services partnership agreement with the Guangzhou Family Planning Center in China that it will use to provide pharmacogenomic analysis services to pharmaceutical companies seeking to perform clinical trials in China.
Transgenomic said it has already equipped the Guangzhou facility with the technology necessary to provide pharmacogenomics services.
Transgenomic President and CEO Craig Tuttle said the agreement provides the firm with the lab it needs to open “significant new clinical testing opportunities for us.”

NIAMS to Fund GWA Studies for Arthritis, Muscle and Skin Diseases
The National Institutes of Health plans to fund genome-wide association studies with around $1 million each year over three years that will advance the understanding of arthritis, musculoskeletal diseases, and skin diseases.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases will offer between two and four projects with up to $200,000 per year for up to two years during 2009, 2010, and 2011, NIH said last week. 
The studies will use existing genetic and clinical data, such as that available in the NIH’s database of Genotype and Phenotype or in other similar data sources, and will not require genotyping of samples, or recruitment or clinical characterization of subjects.
Because these studies will not involve use of subjects or genotyping, NIAMS said, these programs may be completed at modest expense and within two years.
The grants under the Genome-Wide Association Analysis of Existing Data Sets for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases will provide support for personnel, data storage and computation, travel, and other costs, NIH said. 

BGI Partners with PentaBase to Develop PCR-Based Dx Kits
The Beijing Genome Institute and the Danish diagnostic developer PentaBase have agreed to co-develop disease detection kits using genetic biomarkers, PentaBase said this week.
The agreement expands an ongoing collaboration with SD Genomics, which serves as BGI’s contact point in Denmark, that is focused on developing and launching real-time PCR-based diagnostics kits.
PentaBase sells primers and probes for real-time PCR applications, while BGI is a genetic sequencing center with more than 120 sequencing machines, 10 supercomputers, and 500 terabytes of storage, the companies said in a statement.
Terms of the alliance were not disclosed.

GeneNews Posts Drop in Q4 Revenues, Preps for Q3 Launch of ColonSentry Test
GeneNews last week reported a 57 percent drop in revenues for the fourth quarter of 2007 and said it expects to launch its ColonSentry colon cancer diagnostic through its in-house clinical reference lab in the third quarter.
For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2007, Toronto-based GeneNews reported total revenue of CDN$300,000 (US$295,000), compared to CDN$700,000 (US$687,000) in the comparable period of 2006.
Revenue in the fourth quarter of 2007 resulted from a US$2 million agreement that GeneNews signed with an Asian biomedical consortium to identify and validate a set of biomarkers in the field of prostate diseases. Revenues for the prior-year period, meantime, resulted from a collaboration with Pfizer that the company completed in the first quarter of 2007.
R&D expenses for the quarter dipped slightly to CDN$2.1 million from CDN$2.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2006. General and administrative expenses for the quarter rose to CDN$700,000 from CDN$400,000 in the prior-year period.
GeneNews posted a net loss of CDN$2.6 million, or CDN$0.05 per common share, for the fourth quarter, nearly flat with its net loss of CDN$2.7 million, or CDN$0.05 per common share, for the same period last year.
For the full year ended Dec. 31, 2007, revenue fell to CDN$2.2 million from CDN$3.3 million in 2006. Of the company’s 2007 revenues, CDN$1.7 million were from the collaboration agreement with Pfizer that expired during the year. In 2006, the company’s revenues resulted entirely from the Pfizer agreement.
R&D expenses for the year dipped to CDN$8.9 million from CDN$9.5 million in 2006. General and administrative expenses for the year ended Dec. 31, 2007, rose to CDN$2.7 million from CDN$1.9 million in 2006.
The company’s net loss for the year widened to CDN$9.6 million, or CDN$0.17 per common share, from CDN$8.9 million, or CDN$0.18 per common share, for the same period last year.
As of Dec. 31, 2007, GeneNews had CDN$11.3 million in cash and cash equivalents

U of Aberdeen Researcher Lands $200K to Study Protein Biomarkers for Colon Cancer
A scientist at Scotland’s University of Aberdeen will use a £105,000 ($211,000) grant from the Association for International Cancer Research, a Scotland-based non-profit, to study proteins that could be used as diagnostics and therapeutics for early-stage colon cancer, the AICR said last week. 
Graeme Murray at Aberdeen’s Department of Pathology said his team will use a “large collection” of colon cancer samples that include information about the stage of cancer, “and we will look for characteristic changes in the proteins of each to find out if we can use this information and knowledge to see if it can be used as a new way to diagnose the stages of this killer cancer.”
Although the outlook for patients with this type of cancer has improved significantly over the last 20 years, currently only about half of colon cancer patients survive five years after diagnosis, said AICR Scientific Officer, Mark Matfield.

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