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Enzo Biochem, NIH, University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Rutgers University, Genomic Based Drug Discovery, ZS Genetics, U of New Hampshire, Sorenson Genomics, Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, Keygene, Ghent University

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Court Dismisses Enzo's IP-Infringement Suit Against ABI
 
A US District Court in Connecticut has dismissed Enzo Biochem’s patent-infringement suit against Applied Biosystems by granting ABI’s motion for a summary judgment, ABI said last week, “thus dismissing all remaining claims in the patent infringement case brought against Applera by Enzo Biochem.” The judgment invalidates three of the contested patents, according to Applera’s law firm, Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
 
In the lawsuit, filed in 2004, Enzo and co-plaintiff Yale University alleged that ABI infringes six patents covering methods for modifying, preparing, and labeling nucleotides. Four of the patents were assigned to Yale and two were assigned to Enzo Life Sciences.
 
Specifically, Enzo and Yale said ABI’s sequencing reagent kits, its Taqman genotyping and gene expression assays, and its gene-expression microarrays infringe on Yale’s US Patent Nos. 4,476,928; 5,449,767; 5,328,824; and 4,711,955, and Enzo’s US Patent Nos. 5,082,830 and 4,994,373. Enzo and Yale had sought monetary damages, costs, injunctions and other relief from the court.
 
It was unclear from ABI’s or its law firm’s statements which three patents were affected by the ruling.
 
According to Applera’s law firm, the judge’s ruling said that the three patents were invalid for two reasons. The patents were “fatally indefinite” because they fail to provide the public with adequate guidance of what is and what is not covered, and they were not novel because prior scientific publications described the same subject matter.
 
Enzo said in a statement last week that it has filed a notice of appeal with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. "While disappointing, we believe that the ruling is not reflective of the facts in the case and it certainly does not impact our intellectual property portfolio of more than 200 patents," Enzo President Barry Weiner said in the statement.
 

 
NIH Awards First Grants Under Genes, Environment and Health Initiative;
Broad and Hopkins to Serve as Genotyping Centers
 
The National Institutes of Health announced the recipients of the first awards under its Genes, Environment and Health initiative last week, a collaborative program between geneticists and environmental scientists that it kicked off last February.
 
NIH has around $77 million in fiscal 2007 funding for project, including $28 million it had already set aside for the program this year, $40 million in new funding, and $9 million from two NIH institutes.
 
This year, NIH will fund eight genome-wide association studies, two genotyping centers, a coordinating center, and more than 30 environmental technology projects.
 
NIH said the researchers will use genome-wide association technologies to study common diseases, such as tooth decay, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
 
The genetic component of the program aims to identify genetic differences between people with an illness and those who are healthy, with hopes of understanding the underlying genetic contribution to disease, NIH said.
 
The environmental aspect of the program will try to develop new technologies that measure personal exposures to compounds through the use of wearable sensors.
 
The two genotyping facility awards went to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Center for Inherited Disease Research at Johns Hopkins University. Stacey Gabriel is the principal investigator for the Broad award, worth $3.8 million, while David Valle is the PI on the $3.5 million Hopkins award.
 
Bruce Weir at the University of Washington, Seattle, was awarded $1.2 million to create the coordinating center for the GEI.
 
The genome-wide association studies will be led by the National Human Genome Research Institute. The approximate funding levels, principal investigators, institutions, and health conditions to be studied are:
  • $622,000 to Terri Beaty, Johns Hopkins University: International Consortium to Identify Genes and Interactions Controlling Oral Clefts
  • $561,000 to Laura Bierut, Washington University School of Medicine: Study of Addiction: Genetics and Environment
  • $257,000 to Eric Boerwinkle, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston: Genome-wide Association for Gene-environment Interaction Effects Influencing Coronary Heart Disease
  • $349,000 to Neil Caporaso, National Cancer Institute: A Genome-wide Association in a Population-based Lung Cancer Study
  • $622,000 to Frank Hu, Harvard School of Public Health: Genes and Environment Initiatives in Type 2 Diabetes
  • $572,000 to William Lowe, Northwestern University: Genome-wide Association Mapping: Maternal Metabolism-birth Weight Interactions
  • $492,000 to Mary Marazita, University of Pittsburgh: Dental Caries (Tooth Decay); Whole Genome Association and Gene x Environment Studies
  • $488,000 to Jeffrey Murray, University of Iowa: Genome-wide Association Studies of Prematurity and Its Complications
Data from the genome-wide association studies will be deposited in the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP) at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which will manage the genetic, medical and environmental information that emerges from GEI. All data generated through these initiatives will be made available to researchers.
 

 
University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Win
$4.8M to Coordinate NHGRI Disease Studies
 
The University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said last week that they have been awarded a four-year, $4.8 million contract by the National Human Genome Research Institute to coordinate several whole-genome studies of human disease (see news brief above).
 
The new coordinating center will provide statistical and data-management advice and services to a number of disease studies across the United States. The studies will compare the genetic profiles of individuals with a certain disease to the profiles of healthy controls to determine the location of the genes that contribute to the disease.
 
Three researchers will head the new center: Bruce Weir, chair of the UW department of biostatistics and a member of the public health sciences division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Lon Cardon, co-director of the computational biology program and member of the human biology division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW professor of biostatistics; and Richard Kronmal, director of the UW collaborative health studies coordinating center and UW professor of biostatistics.
 

 
Foundation Gives Rutgers $7.8M to Collect DNA Samples for Autism Studies
 
The Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository has received $7.8 million from the autism research initiative of the Simons Foundation to collect DNA samples for autism studies, the university said last week.
 
Under the two-year contract, Rutgers will collect, process, and store samples from 2,000 families that have a single autistic child.
 
The resource, to be called the Simons Simplex Collection, will contain DNA and cell lines from 8,000 participating families. Autism researchers will be able to access these specimens through the Simons Foundation. The aim is to study both inherited and sporadic forms of autism.
 

 
NIH Funds Broad’s Genomic Based Drug Discovery Consortium Under Roadmap
 
The National Institutes of Health is funding a genomics research consortium led by the Broad Institute as part of the NIH’s Roadmap for Medical Research, NIH said last week.
 
The consortium, called Genomic Based Drug Discovery, is led by Edward Scolnick, director of the Broad’s Psychiatric Initiative.
 
The consortium is one of nine that will be funded with $210 million over five years.
 
For more information, click here.
 

 
ZS Genetics and the U of New Hampshire to Co-Develop Technology
 
ZS Genetics and the University of New Hampshire will co-develop technology for genetic analysis, the companies said last week.
 
Under the three-year agreement, ZS Genetics and the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies at the University of New Hampshire will develop technology and intellectual property for ZS Genetics’ genetic analysis technology.
 
ZS Genetics is developing an electron microscopy-based platform for generating detailed images of individual DNA or RNA molecules for sequencing, gene expression analysis, and other applications (see In Sequence 2/20/2007).
 
The parties did not disclose financial details of the contract.
 

 
Sorenson Expands Labs, Stocks Genomics Tool Shed
In Effort to Increase DNA Testing Capacity Five-Fold
 
Sorenson Genomics said this week it is expanding its laboratory facilities, boosting its staff, and expanding its genomics technology stock with new sequencers and sample-prep tools in a move to increase its DNA testing capacity by five-fold.
 
The company said it is expanding its capacity in order to meet “sharply increasing demand” for its DNA testing services.
 
Sorenson Genomics' chief operating officer, Douglas Fogg, told In Sequence sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News that the Salt Lake City-based company plans to expand its laboratory space from 10,000 square feet to a total of 15,000 sq. ft., and its office space from 3,500 sq. ft. to 5,500 sq. ft.
 
Fogg also said the company plans to expand its hardware by buying three new Applied Biosystems 3730 genetic analyzers, two Beckman Coulter BioMek FX liquid-handling instruments, and one automated DNA-extraction tool. Sorenson plans to increase its staff by about 25 percent, adding roughly 20 new staffers to its expanded lab.
 
The company is split into four segments: GeneTree, a provider of on-line paternity testing services; Identigene, a PCR-based DNA testing company; Sorenson Forensics, which provides forensic casework services; and Sorenson Genomics, which provides DNA testing services to worldwide resellers.
 
Fogg said the expansions will affect Sorenson's Forensics, GeneTree, and Genomics divisions. The expansions will not affect its Houston-based Identigene division, which it acquired in June.
 
Sorenson Genomics has an ongoing partnership with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, which is building a repository of correlated genetic and genealogical information, now comprising more than 5 million records.
 

 
Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation Collects DNA in Mongolia
 
The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation said last week that is has completed collecting DNA in Mongolia for a project in collaboration with the National University of Mongolia.
 
Sorenson collected more than 3,000 DNA samples and multi-generation pedigree charts from individuals in all of the Mongolia’s geographic regions, from 24 separate ethnic groups and tribes.
 
"In light of the global fascination with Mongolian icons such as Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun, this project represents an unprecedented opportunity to shed light on the population and genetic histories of their descendants," said Scott Woodward, executive director of SMGF, in a statement.
 
The projects aims to study unique genetic characteristics of the indigenous and mixed populations that make up the Mongolian population; analyze the Mongolian population groups, based on demographic, anthropological and cultural characteristics; document and preserve oral histories; incorporate new correlated historic and genetic data into SMGF's Sorenson Database; promote family history record-keeping; and increase the availability of genealogical record keeping throughout Mongolia.
 
SMGF and NUM also plan to analyze the genetic diversity of selected Mongolian populations in order to build a comprehensive genetic and genealogical map of the region.
 
SMGF claims it has the world's largest repository of correlated genetic and genealogical information from more than 170 countries.
 

 
Keygene Licenses DNA Marker Technology to Ghent University
 
Keygene has licensed its AFLP DNA marker technology to BCCM/LMG at Ghent University, which manages a collection of bacterial strains, the Netherlands-based company said last week.
 
Under the five-year license, BCCM/LMG can perform AFLP reactions on bacterial species.
 
AFLP is a DNA marker technology for genome analysis, transcript profiling, and genetic analysis.
 
The BCCM consortium, funded by the Belgium government, consists of four
research-based service collections. BCCM/LMG manages a collection of over 22,000 bacterial strains. The other members are BCCM/LMBP (plasmids), BCCM/MUCL (fungi and yeasts of agro-industrial importance), and BCCM/IHEM (fungi and yeasts of biomedical importance).

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.