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Snippets: Dec 3, 2008

Transgenomic to Buy Rights to Power3's Neurodegenerative Disease Tests
Transgenomic said this week that it has signed a letter of intent to buy the rights to Power3 Medical Products’ neurodegenerative biomarkers, including NuroPro, a blood serum-based diagnostic for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Transgenomic plans to offer NuroPro through its CLIA-certified molecular diagnostics lab.
The Power3 technology assigns a probability score that links a patient’s sample to a biostatistical model for neurodegenerative disease, and it indicates if the patient should then consult a physician.
Transgenomic’s molecular diagnostic portfolio currently includes tests for mitochondrial disorders, oncology and hematology, molecular pathology and inherited diseases.
The firm said that a final agreement is dependent on the companies negotiating a definitive exclusive license agreement, acquisition agreement, or both, and by winning approval from both companies’ boards of directors.
Transgenomic CEO Craig Tuttle said in a statement that Power3’s tests for early detection of these diseases may be particularly useful when used in combination with Transgenomics' detection and disease susceptibility tests.

UK's Enigma Diagnostics Opens San Francisco Office
UK-based firm Enigma Diagnostics has opened a US office in San Francisco, the company said this week.
The office, which opened this week, is Enigma’s first facility outside the UK. The new office was established to commercialize the company’s rapid diagnostic instrument systems.
Enigma launched its first product, the Enigma Field Laboratory, in November. The FL is “a fully automated, real-time PCR detection system geared for use by veterinarians, first responders, and military personnel."
The company said that it has tapped Chris Melancon, a former Applied Biosystems executive, to head the new office.

DxS Signs US Companion Dx Deal with Amgen for K-RAS Test
Pharmacogenomics firm DxS said this week that it has signed an agreement with Amgen to market its K-RAS assay as a companion diagnostic for Amgen’s Vectibix (panitumumab) colorectal cancer therapy in the US.
Under the terms of the agreement, DxS’ TheraScreen K-RAS Mutation Kit will become a companion diagnostic for use with Vectibix if approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, DxS said. 
The agreement follows a collaboration that the companies signed last year for the use of the DxS K-RAS kit in Europe.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Two UK Institutes to Use InforSense Platform for Mental Health Biomarker Studies
InforSense said this week that it has struck agreements with two UK research institutes that plan to use its translational research tools to develop diagnostic tools for mental health and in Alzheimer’s disease studies.
Specifically, the National Institute of Health Research’s Biomedical Research Center for Mental Health, and the Maudsley National Health Service Foundation Trust and Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, will use its InforSense solution to help access, handle, and visualize data from biomarker research, InforSense said. 
The company’s translational research solution includes the InforSense platform, Clinical Sense, GenSense, BioSense, and the VisualSense Portal.
Scientists at the Biomedical Research Center for Mental Health will use the platform to integrate and analyze patient, genotyping, transcriptomics, proteomics, and MRI data in pursuit of biomarkers.
The company said that its platform will enable researchers and clinicians to access their entire patient and ‘omics data through a common interface, and that it will help them eliminate errors associated with manual data handling and bottlenecks to data access.
Financial terms of the agreements were not released.

Med Biogene's Loss Rises as It Gears Up for Test Launch
Med BioGene  last week reported that its net loss rose 22 percent for the third quarter as it prepares for the US launch of its LungExpress Dx test in mid-2009.
The Vancouver, British Columbia-based firm posted a net loss of C$675,383 (US$547,694), or C$.02 per share, compared to a net loss of C$552,563, or C$.02 per share, for the third quarter of 2007.
Med BioGene’s R&D expenses grew to C$330,877 from C$276,341 year over year, while its general and administrative spending increased to C$320,437 from C$285,557.
During August and September, the firm raised gross proceeds of C$1.8 million from the sale of 12,168,667 units consisting of one common share and one-half of one transferable common share purchase warrant. The money is being used to finance the creation of Med BioGene’s commercial operations.
The company’s lead product, LungExpress Dx, is a gene expression-based test for early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer patients. The firm expects the test to be used for guiding treatment and improving the selection of patients for chemotherapy following surgical removal of cancerous tumors.
Med BioGene finished the quarter with C$1.4 million in cash and cash equivalents.

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The Scan

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.