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US Senate Committee, Lynx, Genomic Solutions, Aclara BioSciences, Genetic Technologies

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US Senate Committee Approves Genetic Anti-Discrimination Bill

A US Senate committee last week approved legislation that would prohibit insurance companies and employers from discriminating against people based on their genetic information, according to a news report.

The bill, which has bipartisan support, may encourage more people to undergo genetic testing.

At its heart, the legislation would prohibit insurers and employers from asking for genetic information or require people to undergo genetic testing, the Associated Press said. Consequently, it would also bar health insurers from using genetic information to deny coverage or to set premiums, and deny employers the opportunity to base hiring and firing decisions on the basis of genetic data.

“Today, public policy catches up with science to ensure that all Americans can realize the promise of advances made in the field of genetic science,” the AP quoted Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, as saying.

Health insurers and business groups claim “there is no evidence of abuse and the legislation is not needed,” the AP said. “Federal nondiscrimination legislation has never been based on potential or theoretical discrimination, but, rather, on some appreciable history of actual discrimination,” R. Bruce Josten of the US Chamber of Commerce said in a letter to Gregg, the AP reported.

The bill must next be approved by the entire Senate and the House of Representatives.


Lynx LimpsOnto Nasdaq Smallcap

Lynx Therapeutics said it will begin trading on the Nasdaq SmallCap Market exchange last Thursday.

Lynx, which had been floundering financially since late last year, was ordered by the Nasdaq to transfer its common stock to the smaller market because Lynx’s market cap falls below the Nasdaq’s minimum requirement.

The company’s market capitalization stood at $8.1 million as of March 31, Lynx said.

Shares in Lynx will continue to trade under the ticker symbol LYNX, and the move to the junior market “should not interrupt the trading” in the stock, Lynx said. “Investors should experience no material difference in the way they obtain stock price quotes or news about Lynx,” the company added.

In December, the Nasdaq exchange threatened to delist Lynx for failing to keep its shares above its minimum closing price of $1 for 30 consecutive trading days. The company’s stock has traded below $1 since July 31.


Genomic Solutions Settles With OGT

Genomic Solutions has settled a lawsuit brought last December by Oxford Gene Technology, and is evaluating whether to appeal a $1.5 million judgment against it brought by Affymetrix for allegedly breaching a contract, the company said last week.

Genomic Solutions, a subsidiary of Harvard Bioscience, was one of six defendants named in a patent-infringement lawsuit filed in US District Court in Delaware in December by Oxford Gene Technology IP. The other companies were Mergen, BD Biosciences Clontech, PerkinElmer, Axon, and Biodiscovery.

Harvard BioSciences said the suit would be dismissed. As part of a settlement reached May 12, Genomic Solutions will display “certain notices” in connection with the marketing of certain genomic-related products and will pay a “nominal amount” to Oxford Gene Technology.

“This dispute arose in part because Oxford Gene Technology believed that Genomic Solutions was still selling pre-printed microarrays,” Harvard Bioscience said. “The product line was eliminated, as planned, in 2002.”

The company also said the decision to exit this line of business was made before Harvard Bioscience acquired Genomic Solutions, and the $1.5 million in damages for license and other fees it will have to pay in the Affymetrix ruling was reserved at the time of the acquisition.


Aclara BioSciences to Add R&D Systems Reagents to eTag Assay

Aclara BioSciences of Mountain View, Calif., has signed an agreement to add reagents supplied by Research and Diagnostic Systems of Minneapolis for sale with its eTag assay system, the firm said last week.

In a non-exclusive agreement, R&D Systems, a subsidiary of Techne, will supply Aclara with cytokines and related proteins and antibodies that will be marketed as part of the eTag assay system acquisition.


Genetic Technologies Licenses Patents to University of Utah

Genetic Technologies of Melbourne, Australia, has licensed to the University of Utah patents tied to the use of non-coding DNA sequences, the company said last week.

This is the first time Genetic Technologies has licensed these patents to an academic institute. Commercial applications arising from the university’s research must be covered by a separate license, the company said.

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The Scan

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A lawyer for the family of Henrietta Lacks plans to seek compensation from pharmaceutical companies that have used her cancer cells in product development, the Baltimore Sun reports.

For the Unknown

The Associated Press reports that family members are calling on the US military to use new DNA analysis techniques to identify unknown sailors and Marines who were on the USS Arizona.

PLOS Papers on Congenital Heart Disease, COVID-19 Infection Host MicroRNAs, Multiple Malformation Mutations

In PLOS this week: new genes linked to congenital heart disease, microRNAs with altered expression in COVID-19, and more.