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CuraGen, Miami Institute for Human Genomics, BioServe, SeraCare Life Sciences, US House of Representatives, Agencourt, Affymetrix, Nugen, National Genome Research Network, Illumina

$50M-$55M Revenues ‘Achievable Target’ for 454 This Year, CuraGen Says
CuraGen last week said it continues to expect its 454 Life Sciences subsidiary to generate between $50 million and $55 million in revenue this year.
The company originally made its projection in January. Last week, during the company’s first-quarter conference call, CEO Frank Armstrong said: “From our view of the first quarter, this continues to be an achievable target.”
CuraGen did not break out 454’s revenues for the period. Until it sells the unit to Roche, it will report 454’s operating results in its financial statements as “results from discontinued operations,” the company said in a statement.
The sale of 454, which will become part of Roche Diagnostics’ Applied Science business area, is expected to be completed in the second quarter, subject to regulatory approvals.
Two weeks ago, Roche said its Applied Science unit recorded CHF166 million ($137.4 million) in sales in the first quarter, up 6 percent over last year’s CHF157 million during the same period.
Growth was “based on sales of the Light Cycler 480 system, the Genome Sequencer 20 System, and research reagents,” the company said in a statement. The GS 20 and GS FLX “continue to expand into additional applications in the life science research arena.”

The pending acquisition of 454 “will give Roche Diagnostics full access to 454 Life Sciences’ future generations of sequencing products, along with the ability to use this technology in in vitro diagnostic applications."

Florida Sets Aside $80M to Build Out Miami Institute for Human Genomics
Florida state legislators last week agreed to set aside $80 million to help the University of Miami establish a genetics research institute, according to a local newspaper.
The Miami Institute for Human Genomics will use the money to buy equipment and to recruit scientists, the Miami Herald reported this week. The paper said supporters of the center believe the facility will “create high-paying jobs in South Florida as well as trigger spin-off companies.”
Funding for the institute was a “top priority” for House Speaker Marco Rubio and other lawmakers.

BioServe Acquires Genomics Collaborative From SeraCare Life Sciences
BioServe this week said it has acquired Genomics Collaborative from SeraCare Life Sciences for an undisclosed sum.
Genomics Collaborative offers access to a repository of 600,000 human DNA, tissue, and serum samples that are “linked to detailed clinical and demographic data from 140,000 consented and anonymized patients collected on four continents," BioServe said.
BioServe said it will fully integrate Genomics Collaborative into its operations.
Bioserve said the acquisition significantly expands its pre-clinical service offerings, allowing the company to offer a platform that takes “biomaterial to validated data.”
The combined platform will include DNA and RNA purification reagents, DNA sequencing, oligonucleotide synthesis, and genotyping services for studies of a variety of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, inflammatory disorders, several common cancers, and others.

US House Passes Genetic Nondiscrimination Bill …
The US House of Representatives last week passed legislation that would bar employers and health insurance companies from using an individual’s genetic information for hiring or coverage decision.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007, introduced by Representatives Louise Slaughter, Democrat of New York, and Judy Biggert, Republican of Illinois, is also expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Bush, said the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University.
The bill, known as GINA, has been introduced in Congress several times over the past decade.
GINA would make it illegal for group health insurers to deny coverage to healthy people based “solely on a genetic predisposition to a specific disease,” and will forbid employers from using genetic information “when making hiring, firing, job placement, or promotion decisions.”
To coincide with the House’s vote, the GPPC last week published results of a recent survey it conducted that showed overwhelming concern by US citizens that their genetic information could be used against them in these situations.
The GPPC also found that around 75 percent of Americans would support legislation to protect them from employers and health insurers accessing and using information about them drawn from genetic tests.
According to the GPPC, “Despite widespread, longstanding agreement among American citizens and politicians that protection from genetic discrimination should be clear and consistent, an individual’s genetic information is protected only by a largely untested patchwork of state and federal regulations.”
In a statement last week, Slaughter said that GINA “addresses those fears by prohibiting the improper use of genetic information by a person's employer or insurer.”
Slaughter told the House that there already has been “many instances of genetic discrimination, including a case in which a woman “was fired after a genetic test revealed her risk for a lung disorder to a social worker, who despite outstanding performance reviews, was dismissed because of her family history of Huntington's disease.”
The Coalition for Genetic Fairness, an advocacy alliance made up of biotech companies and healthcare professionals, last week also applauded the House’s passage of the bill.

… As Survey Finds Americans Fear Genetic Discrimination But Support Tests and Research
While an overwhelming majority of Americans support the use of genetic testing for medical conditions, an equal number fears employers or health care companies can misuse information from such tests in discriminatory ways, according to a Johns Hopkins University white paper.
According to the document, which reports results of a survey conducted by the school’s Genetics and Public Policy Center, more than 90 percent of Americans support researchers and doctors using genetic tests for research, for predicting reactions to medical treatments, and for identifying risk for treating disease.
But 93 percent of responders also said employers and health insurers should not be able to use personal genetic information to make decisions about workplace hiring or promotions, or about insurance limitations or pricing.
More than 75 percent of those surveyed supported a law that would protect Americans from employers and health insurers using genetic tests to make such decisions.  
The paper, which can be found here, said “many states have enacted protections” against genetic discrimination in health insurance, employment, or both, though these laws “vary widely in scope and many are untested in court.” State laws “fail to provide a uniform floor of protections in employment and health insurance on which Americans can rely,” according to the white paper.
When responders to the GPPC survey were asked how much they trust different people with their personal genetic test results, most said they would trust doctors, spouses, and genetics researchers. However, only 24 percent said they would trust health insurers with access to such tests, and only 16 percent would trust their employers with this information.
The center released the findings in a statement saying the survey was conducted in anticipation of an upcoming congressional vote on a bill, the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act, designed to protect individuals from discrimination based on information from genetic tests.

Agencourt, Affymetrix, Nugen Collaborate on RNA Expression-Analysis Service
Agencourt, Affymetrix, and Nugen last week said they have created an automated service to target and prep RNA from blood samples for expression profiling projects conducted on Affy’s GeneChip micorarrays.
The collaboration will support an RNA-amplification system that uses NuGen’s Ovation Whole Blood technology and automates Agencourt’s RNAdvance using Beckman Coulter’s ArrayPlex.
The collaboration also uses Agencourt’s RNAClean kit and SPRIPlate magnet plates.  
The companies said the expression-analysis service will be useful to pharmaceutical companies and government agencies seeking new biomarkers, and for academic labs that require high-throughput applications.

German Genomics Project Buys Genotyping Tools From Illumina and Affy
The National Genome Research Network of Germany has bought hardware from Illumina and Affymetrix for large-scale research projects that aim to genotype more than 20,000 patients in studies of major diseases, Illumina and Affymetrix said separately last week.
"Genome-wide association studies will provide the life science community with genetic maps for some of the most complex diseases," Stefan Schreiber, speaker of the NGRN steering committee, said in a statement. The NGFN “aims to drive this analysis to a meta-level above single (indication) phenotypes and thus understand genetic risk as an overarching susceptibility for general processes like inflammation, degeneration, or cancer."
Schreiber, who is also a professor at the University of Kiel, expects to receive one of the first ABI SOLiD systems this summer (see GenomeWeb Daily News, 12/19/2006)
Affymetrix said the NGFN has purchased its Genome-Wide Human SNP Array 5.0 to genotype 17,000 individuals in a study of 25 diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, malaria, heart disease, and epilepsy.
Affy said it will supply the NGFN with its SNP Array 6.0 when it is available later in the year.
Illumina said the NGFN purchased its Infinium HumanCNV370-Duo, HumanHap300-Duo, and HumanHap550 BeadChips.  
The company said the NGFN will employ these tools in an 8,000-subject genotyping study investigating bipolar disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, alcoholism, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis.
The data from these studies will be compared against information from healthy subjects to identify genetic variations that may be linked to the disease.
The NGFN is a genomics research program commissioned in 2001 by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The program’s second phase runs between 2004 and 2007 and it is fuelled by €135 million ($184 million) in German government funds.
Financial terms of the agreements were not released.

The Scan

Single-Cell Sequencing Points to Embryo Mosaicism

Mosaicism may affect preimplantation genetic tests for aneuploidy, a single-cell sequencing-based analysis of almost three dozen embryos in PLOS Genetics finds.

Rett Syndrome Mouse Model Study Points to RNA Editing Possibilities

Investigators targeted MECP2 in mutant mouse models of Rett syndrome, showing in PNAS that they could restore its expression and dial down symptoms.

Investigators Find Shared, Distinct Genetic Contributors to Childhood Hodgkin Lymphoma

An association study in JAMA Network Open uncovers risk variants within and beyond the human leukocyte antigen locus.

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.