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454, Roche, NHGRI, New England Biolabs, Integrated Genomics, JGI

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454 Revenues Increase 43 Percent in Q1 as Unit Awaits Sale to Roche
 
454 Life Sciences’ first-quarter revenues increased 43 percent compared to the prior-year period, according to information CuraGen disclosed in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week.
 
Curagen included 454’s first-quarter financial results under “discontinued operations” in a 10-Q filing last week. In late March, Curagen agreed to sell 454 to Roche for up to $154.9 million in cash. The sale is expected to close this quarter.
 
According to the SEC filing, 454 had $12.9 million in revenues in the first quarter, up from $8.8 million during the same period last year.
 
Of those revenues, $8.4 million derived from products, up from $4.5 million during the year-ago quarter. Sequencing service revenue remained almost flat, at $2.6 million, compared to $2.4 million last year. 454 also recorded $375,000 in collaboration revenue, the same amount as a year ago, and $1.5 million in milestone revenues, up from $950,000 during last year’s first quarter.
 
Research and development costs increased to $4.4 million during the quarter, up from $3.3 million during the year-ago period.
 
454’s loss for the quarter increased to $1.1 million, from $55,000 during the year-ago quarter. This increase was due to rising R&D expenses as well as higher general and administrative expenses, primarily from consulting and legal fees in connection with the sale to Roche.
 
The increase was partially offset by a higher profit margin 454 earned on product, grant, and milestone revenue, according to the filing.
 
As of March 31, 454 had $5.9 million in cash and cash equivalents, $1.1 million in short-term investments, and $28,000 in marketable securities.
 
CuraGen said it expects to shoulder most of 454’s net loss during the second quarter, prior to the completion of the sale of the business to Roche, but does not anticipate the amount to be material.
 

 
NHGRI Awards $57M in modENCODE Grants for Drosophila, C. elegans Studies
 
The National Human Genome Research Institute this week awarded $57 million in grants to 10 projects under its modENCODE Project, which aims to study the functional elements in the genomes of the model organisms Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. The funding will be spread over four years.
 
The effort will build upon the ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, which NHGRI launched in 2003 with the goal of building a catalog of all elements in the human genome crucial to biological function.
 
“This parallel effort in the fruit fly and worm genomes will provide us with information about the functional landscape of two key model organisms, which should aid our efforts to tackle such questions in humans,” NHGRI director Francis Collins said in a statement.
 
The following is a list of modENCODE grant recipients the NIH named this week:
 
Susan Celniker, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
First year, $3.6 million; total funds, $14.5 million
“Comprehensive Characterization of the Drosophila Transcriptome”
 
Steven Henikoff, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
First-year funds, $429,000; total funds, $7.4 million
“Genome-Wide Profiling of Histone Variants in Drosophila and Caenorhabditis
 
Gary Karpen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
First -year funds, $1.8 million; total funds, $7.2 million
 “Genome-Wide Mapping of Chromosomal Proteins in Drosophila
 
Eric Lai, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
First-year funds, $470,000; total funds, $1.9 million
 “Annotation of the Small RNA/microRNA Component in the Drosophila Genome“
 
Jason Lieb, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
First-year funds, $1.8 million; total funds, $9.1 million
“Identification of DNA Elements Governing Chromatin Function in C. elegans
 
David MacAlpine, Duke University
First-year funds, $469,000; total funds, $1.9 million
“The Systematic Identification and Analysis of Replication Origins in Drosophila
 
Fabio Piano, New York University.
First-year funds, $397,000; total funds, $1.6 million
“Encyclopedia of C. elegans 3’UTRs and Their Regulatory Elements”
 
Michael Snyder, Yale University
First-year funds, $1.7 million; total funds, $6.6 million
 “Global Identification of Transcription Factor Binding Sites in C. elegans
 
Robert Waterston, University of Washington
 First-year funds, $1.4 million; total funds, $5.4 million
“Global Identification of Transcribed Elements in the C. elegans Genome”
 
Kevin White, University of Chicago
First-year funds, $2.3 million; total funds, $9.1 million
“A Cis Regulatory Map of the Drosophila Genome”
 

 
New England Biolabs To Use Integrated Genomics’ ERGO
 
New England Biolabs has licensed Integrated Genomics’ ERGO bioinformatics software platform, Integrated Genomics said this week.
 
NEB will use the software for gene annotation, metabolic reconstruction, enzyme data-mining, and comparative genomics.
 
ERGO integrates data from genomics, biochemistry, gene expression studies, genetics, and the literature. It includes more than 1,180 genomes at “various stages of completion,” the company said.
 

 
JGI Hits 100-Genome Milestone
 
The Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute said last week that it has finished sequencing its 100th genome sequence – that of Shewanella baltica OS185, a microbe that lives in the Baltic Sea and shows promise for cleaning up radioactive contamination.
 
Chris Detter, leader of the JGI Sequencing Technology Team, said that S. baltica might be useful for cleaning up uranium-contaminated areas, such as the laboratory's legacy waste sites.
 
S. baltica is able to convert uranium dissolved in groundwater into uranium dioxide, which is insoluble and therefore does not migrate into groundwater.

The Scan

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.

Effectiveness May Decline, Data From Israel Suggests

The New York Times reports that new Israeli data suggests a decline in Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness against Delta variant infection, though protection against severe disease remains high.

To See Future Risk

Slate looks into the use of polygenic risk scores in embryo screening.

PLOS Papers on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus, Bone Marrow Smear Sequencing, More

In PLOS this week: genomic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, archived bone marrow sequencing, and more.