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Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Harvard University, UCSC, NIST, Helicos BioSciences, Uppsala University, Agowa Genomics, 454 Life Sciences, Synamatix, Illumina, Avantome, Roche Applied Science, Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, DOE, USDA, Qiagen, US Senate

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Oxford Nanopore Licenses IP from Harvard and UCSC, NIST Collaborators
 
Oxford Nanopore Technologies has acquired the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize certain nanopore technologies from Harvard University and collaborators at the University of California Santa Cruz and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the company said this week.
 
Oxford, UK-based Oxford Nanopore said it will support basic nanopore research at Harvard that could help to advance the field.
 
The technology Oxford Nanopore has licensed includes intellectual property that was developed by Harvard researchers Daniel Branton, George Church, and Jene Golovchenko; David Deamer and Mark Akeson at UCSC; and John Kasianowicz at NIST.
 
According to the company, the IP complements its own technology, which was developed by Oxford Nanopore co-founder and University of Oxford professor Hagan Bayley.
 
Oxford Nanopore CEO Gordon Sanghera said in a statement that “this agreement encompasses many aspects of nanopore technology.”
 
The company did not disclose financial terms of the agreement.
 

 
Helicos Announces Second Order for Sequencing System, Inks Alliance with Uppsala University
 
Helicos BioSciences said this week that it has received an order for its Helicos Genetic Analysis System from an unnamed cancer research center in the US.
 
This is the second order that Helicos has announced for its DNA sequencing platform since it launched the system earlier this year. The first customer, genomics services firm Expression Analysis, ordered a Helicos Genetic Analysis System in February (see In Sequence 3/11/2008).
 
Helicos said that the cancer center will use the system in a research program involving cancer stem cell biology.
 
In a separate announcement, Helicos said that it had established a scientific collaboration with a genomics research group at Sweden’s Uppsala University. The researchers, led by Claes Wadelius, will use Helicos’ single molecule sequencing technology to study changes in the cell nucleus that occur in the presence of growth factors.
 
Helicos said the researchers would study changes in the structure of nucleosomes and transcription factor binding.
 

 
Agowa Genomics Purchases 454 GS FLX
 
Agowa Genomics, a unit of LGC, a provider of analytical, forensic, and diagnostic services, has acquired a 454 Genome Sequencer FLX, the company said this week.
 
The system will enable the company to expand its services for customers. New services include de novo sequencing of prokaryotic and small eukaryotic genomes; completion of de novo sequencing projects by resolving repeats and closing gaps through a combination of 454 and Sanger sequencing; analysis of metagenomes, transcriptomes, normalized cDNA, methylation patterns, and pools of tagged fosmids, and BACs; and targeted resequencing.
 
Agowa, which became part of LGC in 2005, said it will be an early-access customer for the new Titanium-series of reagents that Roche plans to launch this fall. The new reagents will enable users to obtain Q20 read lengths of over 400 bases and up to 500 megabases per instrument run.
 
To handle the data from the instrument, Agowa will install an off-rig server at its laboratory in Berlin, Germany. The company will also expand its sequencing labs and hire more sequencing specialists.
 
Agowa staff will also collaborate with scientists at LGC's corporate Research & Technology division “to elucidate a number of challenging scientific themes” that will “help to establish new applications,” according to a company statement.
 

 
Synamatix Joins Illumina Connect Bioinformatics Program
 
Synamatix said this week that it will work with Illumina to provide bioinformatics data-analysis and -mining tools for customers of Illumina’s Genome Analyzer.
 
Synamatix said that it has joined the company’s “Illumina Connect” bioinformatics program and will offer Genome Analyzer users data analysis applications using its SynaWorks software suite.
 
The company, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, expects to work with Illumina on a range of genome and transcriptome sequencing projects in Asia, Europe, and North America.
 

 
Illumina Files for Share Offering, Closes Avantome Acquisition
 
Illumina said this week that it has filed a shelf registration with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed public offering of 3.5 million shares of common stock, and that it has closed its acquisition of Avantome.
 
The company said that the underwriter would be granted the right to purchase up to an additional 525,000 shares as part of the offering. All of the shares would be offered by Illumina. Goldman, Sachs is acting as sole manager of the offering.
 
The firm did not say when it expects to launch the offering. Based on its closing price of $92.74 on Friday of last week, Illumina expects around $316 million in net proceeds. If the underwriter exercises the over-allotment option, net proceeds would be roughly $363 million.
 
Illumina said in its SEC filing that it intends to use the proceeds from the offering to fund R&D efforts, expand its manufacturing capacity, and for working capital. It also said that it may use the money to acquire, license, or invest in other businesses, technologies, or products.
 
A couple of weeks ago, Illumina said that its board of directors had approved a two-for-one stock split that will be affected in the form of a stock dividend. The firm said the split is subject to shareholders approving an increase in the number of authorized shares of Illumina’s common stock from 120 million to 500 million.
 
Illumina also said this week that on Aug.1 it closed its acquisition of Avantome, a privately held developer of a low-cost, long-read sequencing technology.
 

 
Roche’s Grant Program Offers 10 GB of 454 Sequencing
 
Roche Applied Science, a unit of Roche Diagnostics, is offering 10 gigabases of 454 sequence data under a renewal of its grant program.
 
The program will award up to 10 gigabases of sequence data to an individual, institution, or corporation for a sequencing or transcriptome study. Grant recipients are responsible for designing the experiment, acquiring samples, and analyzing the resulting data.
 
Roche will generate the sequence data on its 454 Genome Sequencer FLX system, using new reagents that produce 400-base reads.
 
Applicants have to submit a proposal outlining their project goals by Aug. 8. Winners will be announced Nov. 1. More information is available here.
 

 
Chicken DNA Fails to Support Early Polynesian-South American Trade Theory
 
New research is casting doubt on the notion that there was extensive pre-Columbian trading between Polynesia and South America.
 
An international team of researchers sequenced mitochondrial DNA from 41 Chilean chickens and compared their phylogenetic relationships with available ancient samples and with more than 1,000 modern domestic chickens from different parts of the world.
 
The results, which appeared online last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that Chilean chickens share mitochondrial sequence with both Polynesian and European chickens, originating in the Indian subcontinent. As such, the new work fails to support — though it doesn’t disprove — the idea that there was pre-historic trade between early Polynesians and South Americans.
 
“Polynesians are known to have spread chickens across the Pacific at least as far as Easter Island, but were not thought to have introduced them to South America,” senior author Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA in Adelaide, explained in a statement.
 
But that did not stop some from speculating that there were chickens in America before the arrival of Spaniards in the 15th century. The presence of some unusual chicken breeds, including the Araucana and Passion Fowl, found in Chile, fueled speculation that early Dutch or Polynesian traders had introduced chickens to the region before Columbus’ arrival at the end of that century.
 
And that theory was bolstered last year by research published in PNAS linking chicken DNA sequences at Chilean and Polynesian archeological sites. Based on their radiocarbon data and analyses of a short mitochondrial DNA control region, the researchers working on that paper concluded that there was a pre-Columbian introduction of chickens — originating in Polynesia — to the Arauco Peninsula in Chile.
 
For the latest study, Cooper and his team sequenced mitochondrial DNA from 41 different Chilean chicken breeds — 28 Araucanas, seven creole, one Japanese Long Tail, and five Passion Fowl — selected from a dozen sites within the country. They then compared these sequences with ancient Polynesian and Chilean chicken sequences and with roughly a thousand domestic chicken sequences.
 
When the researchers analyzed phylogenetic relationships between the birds, they found evidence that the proposed pre-Columbian chicken did share some sequence with Polynesian chickens. But, importantly, this sequence appears to have a worldwide distribution, removing genetic support for a direct relationship between Polynesian and South American birds.
 
“The results showed that the ancient Polynesian and Chilean chickens possessed a genetic sequence that is the most common in the world today, the so-called ‘KFC’ gene,” Cooper said. “This sequence would undoubtedly have been common in the early Spanish chickens, and therefore provides no evidence of Polynesian contact.”
 
In contrast, the team discovered an uncommon haplotype on Easter Island that is shared with chickens in the Indonesian islands and parts of Japan and the Philippines. So far, though, researchers have not detected the sequence representing that rare haplotype in Polynesia.
 
The team’s mitochondrial DNA analysis also provided evidence supporting the idea that European chickens originated in the Indian subcontinent and were dispersed to other parts of the world from there.
 
In the future, the team noted, more work will be necessary to determine the timing of chicken dispersal throughout and adaptation to the Americas and South East Asia. “Of particular interest will be chickens kept by some indigenous communities in the Amazon forest, the origins of which remain unclear,” they wrote.
 

 
DOE, USDA Grant $10.8M to 10 Biofuel Genomics Studies
 
The US Departments of Energy and Agriculture said last week that they will provide nearly $11 million over three years to fund 10 genomics research programs aimed to help develop bioenergy feedstocks for use in cellulosic biofuels.
 
Under the joint Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program, the DOE will contribute $8.8 million from its Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and the USDA will provide $2 million through its Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.
 
“Developing cost-effective means of producing cellulosic biofuels on a national scale poses major scientific challenges — these grants will help develop the type of transformational breakthroughs needed in basic science to make this happen,” DOE Under Secretary for Science Raymond Orbach said in a statement.
 
The genomics program began in 2006 and aims to establish a scientific foundation for using woody plant tissue for bioenergy or biofuels.
 
“These grants will broaden the sources of energy from many crops as well as improve the efficiency and options among renewable fuels,” said Gale Buchanan, USDA’s under secretary for Research, Education and Economics.
 
The DOE/USDA joint Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program made the following awards: 
  • The University of Georgia will receive $1.3 million to lead a study to generate genomic and genetic tools for foxtail millet that will complement the DOE Joint Genome Institute’s foxtail genome sequencing project;
  • Pennsylvania State University will get $587,000 to study the regulation of ferulic acid in cell walls of the Brachypodium distachyon grass species and to generate a mutant strain that could be used in further studies of the potential bioenergy crop;
  • Michigan State University will use $540,000 to provide computational tools for data-mining of genome sequence and annotation, and functional genomic datasets for biofuel feedstock species;
  • Purdue University will receive $1.2 million to conduct bioinformatics analysis on cell walls in grass species, maize, annotation of switchgrass orthologs, and to generate mutants in cell wall-related genes;
  • The Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research will get $882,000 to identify genes that control arbuscular mychorrhizal symbiosis, and factors that regulate gene function and the acquisition of nutrients such as phosphate. The goal is to understand plant-fungal partnerships and how they help maintain the terrestrial soil environment;
  • The University of Massachusetts will get $1.2 million to identify regulatory genomic binding sites using reverse and forward genetic approaches in Brachypodium and Arabidopsis;
  • Colorado State University will use $1.5 million to integrate a breeding and genomics platform to identify biomass traits in rice, for translation to second generation bioenergy grasses;
  • The University of Georgia received $1.2 million to develop genomic resources for woody biomass trait identification in a hybrid sunflower species that is extremely drought tolerant;
  • Oregon State University has received $1.2 million to develop an Affymetrix genome tiling array that will be used to generate an expression atlas representing major developmental stages or stress responses in Brachypodium; and
  • Oregon State University will receive $1.2 million to study how epigenetics are involved in the regulation and development and dormancy in poplar and other woody species. The researchers will characterize changes in DNA methylation patterns on specific tissues.

 
Qiagen Q2 Revenues Up 61 Percent; Settles Suit with Idaho Technology
 
Qiagen reported this week that its second-quarter revenues rose 61 percent and its adjusted net income, which excludes acquisition-related items, increased 57 percent year over year.
 
Qiagen also announced that it had settled litigation with Idaho Technology related to real-time PCR technology.
 
For the three-month period ended June 30, the firm generated revenues of $217.9 million, compared to $135 million for the second quarter of 2007.
 
Qiagen’s profit for the quarter was $23.2 million, or $.11 per share, compared to a profit of $22.6 million, or $.14 per share, for the comparable period a year ago. The results include charges of $24.1 million for Q2 related to acquisition and integration costs and amortization of acquired intellectual property compared with $4 million for similar charges the year before. On an adjusted basis, Qiagen’s net income for the most recent quarter was $40.4 million, up from adjusted net income of $25.8 million the year before.
 
During Q2 2008, Qiagen acquired Corbett Life Science, a privately held life sciences instrumentation firm based in Sydney, Australia, in a transaction worth up to $135 million. Corbett is the developer of a rotary real-time PCR cycler system called Rotor-Gene.
 
Qiagen’s R&D spending nearly doubled in the quarter, to $23.8 million, from $12.7 million, while its SG&A expenses increased 70.9 percent, to $77.9 million, from $45.6 million.
 
The company finished the quarter with $380.7 million in cash and cash equivalents.
 
Qiagen said that it expects its full-year 2008 revenues to range between $889 million and $919 million.
 
In a separate announcement, Qiagen said that it had reached a settlement agreement with Idaho Technology, giving the firm rights to Idaho’s suite of intellectual property covering polymerase chain reaction methods and instrumentation, the use of SYBR Green I in PCR reactions, melting curve analysis, and analysis methods of DNA melting data.
 
The patents were at the center of a legal dispute between Corbett and Idaho, related to Corbett’s sale of the Rotor-Gene instruments. Qiagen said that the settlement was a condition for its acquisition of the Australian firm last month. The company did not disclose financial terms of the settlement.
 

 
Senate Committee Approves 14-Year Extension for SBIR/STTR Program
 
A US Senate committee unanimously passed a bill last week that would extend by 14 years two federal programs that provide research funding for small businesses.
 
The bill, the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2008 (S. 3362), will now move to the full Senate after the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship passed it last week.
 
The Small Business Innovation Research and the Small Business Technology Transfer programs, which were instituted in 1982 and are scheduled to “sunset” in September, would be extended under the bill through 2022 and 2023, respectively.
 
The House of Representatives passed a version of the bill (H.R. 5819) in late April. Since then, the Senate committee has been working on a compromise regarding the eligibility of small businesses that are majority-owned by venture capital firms.
 
The Senate committee agreed on a compromise that allows the National Institutes of Health to award up to 18 percent of its SBIR funds to these VC-backed companies, and the other 10 SBIR agencies to award up to 8 percent of their SBIR funds to these firms.
The bill has retained language from the House version (H.R. 5819) that excluded businesses with over 500 employees from the SBIR/STTR program.
 
“We’ve worked to address many of the concerns of the small business community and of my colleagues in the House and Senate, and this bill would keep these programs going strong,” committee Chairman Senator John Kerry (D – Mass.) said in a statement. Kerry is a co-sponsor of the bill.
 
The National Small Business Association said in a statement last week that although the compromise is “not ideal for the small-business community,” the Senate bill improves upon the House version, which “would have allowed unfettered SBIR access to VC-controlled firms.”
 
The Senate bill would raise SBIR and STTR award sizes from their current level of $100,000 for Phase I grants and $750,000 for Phase II grants to $150,000 and $1 million, respectively. This is also a departure from the House bill, which called for $300,000 for Phase I grants and $2.2 million for Phase II awards.
 
Federal agencies having an extramural yearly budget over $100 million will continue to be required to allocate 2.5 percent of their extramural research and development funds to the SBIR program under the legislation.
 
The committee said last week that approximately one out of four projects that are funded by the SBIR program result in new commercial products or processes.
 
“By increasing the percentage of Federal research and development dollars these crucial programs receive, we will pump another $1 billion into our small business economy,” said Senator Olympia Snowe (R – Me.), a ranking member on the committee and a co-sponsor of the bill.
 
The bill will now wait for review by the full Senate, and if it passes there, it would be returned to the House where the changes would be considered.
 

 
Sequenom Posts Q2 Revenue Growth; Proof-of-Concept for Nanopore Sequencing Ongoing
 
Sequenom said last week that increased sales of its MassArray system and consumables drove a 25-percent increase in second-quarter revenues, to $12.8 million, from $10.2 million in the second quarter of 2007. The company placed around 16 MassArray systems during the quarter.
 
Harry Stylli, president and CEO of Sequenom, said in a conference call to discuss the company’s earnings that Sequenom plans to complete proof-of-concept studies for the optical nanopore sequencing technology that it licensed from Harvard University last year. He cautioned that the technology is “still very early stage,” and said that the proof-of-concept studies are designed to “demonstrate if it’s likely to deliver the kind of solution we would want.”
 
Separately, the company said that it has expanded an existing alliance with SensiGen under which SensiGen will develop a test for human papillomavirus exclusively on Sequenom's MassArray platform.
 
Under the expanded agreement, SensiGen will also develop and market tests for chronic kidney disease and lupus that will run on the MassArray platform.
 
Sequenom said the expanded agreement also gives it the future right to a minority equity interest in SensiGen, but did not disclose additional financial terms of the alliance.
 
For the three months ended June 30, Sequenom’s R&D expenses rose nearly 50 percent to $6.4 million from $4.3 million in the year-ago period. The company said that the increase in R&D spending was due to development expenses for its noninvasive prenatal diagnostic technology, MassArray system product improvements and new applications, and “increased headcount-related expenses, including higher stock-based compensation expense.”
 
SG&A spending also increased, to $10.6 million, from $7 million in the second quarter of 2007, “as a result of an expansion in the sales force in Japan and India, increased marketing and advertising expenses, and other headcount-related expenses including higher stock-based compensation expense.”
 
Sequenom’s total costs and expenses for the second quarter rose 46 percent, to $22.5 million, from $15.4 million in the prior-year period.
 
The company’s net loss nearly doubled to $9.7 million, or $.21 per share, from $4.8 million, or $.13 per share, for the second quarter of 2007.
 
The company reiterated its previous revenue guidance for the full year of between $50 million and $53 million, which would represent around 30 percent growth over 2007 revenues.
 
Full-year net loss is expected to be higher than earlier forecasts, in the range of $34 million to $36 million, as compared to the previously announced guidance of $30 million to $33 million. The company said the increase is a result of increased stock-based compensation expenses as well as projected legal expenses.
 
Sequenom said that it expects its cash burn for the year to be around $30 million as compared to the previously announced guidance of $26 million to $28 million.
 
As of June 30, Sequenom had cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash, and marketable securities of $29.5 million. This does not include net proceeds of $92 million from the company’s stock offering in early July.
 
In the conference call, Stylli said that the company is considering building or acquiring a CLIA-compliant lab some time this year in order to “take control” over the commercialization of its homebrew tests. He estimated that this would cost in the range of $10 million to $30 million.
 
Paul Hawran, Sequenom’s CFO, said during the call that the company’s projected cash burn for the year does not take into account any costs associated with the proposed CLIA lab.
 
Stylli said that in the current quarter, the company plans to launch a new MassArray application for determining copy number variations, as well as a new application that will help researchers identify genes that have mutated or have been influenced by environmental or other factors.
 
By the end of the calendar year, Sequenom intends to launch an oncogene mutation panel. Stylli said that while the panel will be marketed for research use only, it has “the potential to be used for genetically typing tumor biopsies to help guide molecular therapy selection by physicians.”
 
In the second half of 2009, the company plans to launch a “closed tube” assay that is intended to simplify the workflow for the MassArray system, which will “enable Sequenom to enter new segments of the genomic analysis market and will enable the MassArray platform to be even more competitive in molecular diagnostics,” Stylli said.
 
Stylli added that the company plans to build upon a 200-sample clinical study that it completed earlier this year to validate its molecular test for Down syndrome. He said that the study could involve up to 10,000 samples from “high-prevalence” patients and should be complete by the third quarter of 2009.
 
He reiterated the company’s previously disclosed plans to commercialize the Down syndrome assay as a homebrew test in the first half of 2009.
 

 
Commentary Calls for Translational Studies to Advance Personal Genomics
 
An increased emphasis on translational research will be necessary in order to ensure that personalized genomics delivers on its promise, according to a commentary published in the August issue of Nature Genetics.
 
In the commentary, a group of scientists led by Colleen McBride, a researcher in the Social and Behavioral Research Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute, write that regulators and the medical and scientific communities need a better understanding of how information from genetic tests is used in the clinic, how useful these tests are, and how genetic knowledge is viewed and used by patients before genetic technologies find their way into widespread use.
 
McBride and colleagues, including Sharon Hensley Alford of Henry Ford Hospital, Robert Reid and Eric Larson of the Center for Health Studies, and Andreas Baxevanis and Lawrence Brody of the NHGRI’s Genome Technology Branch, note that there has been a “flood” of genome-wide association studies recently, but warn that “the foundation needed to understand the public and clinical utility of these risk markers lags behind.”
 
Currently, there is a “paucity” of research on how to present genetic risk information to individuals, families, and healthcare providers, the authors explain, yet these tests are currently marketed to consumers “based on the assumption that obtaining personal genetic information may have value to the general public.”
 
Furthermore, they write, this marketing activity is happening “against a backdrop of increasing media interest in new genetic discoveries, including near-weekly pronouncements of ‘the discovery of the gene for’ a particular health condition.”
 
In the meantime, the authors note, there are still numerous outstanding questions about how to gauge the clinical utility of these tests.
 
As a result, McBride and colleagues call for “a targeted research program to support translational genomics” that would “evaluate the potential of genomic products to improve health.”
 
This research hopefully would seek to answer a number questions about genetic susceptibility testing, such as how genetic test results might be transmitted to patients in ways that are understandable, how an individual’s interpretation of test results might change over time, how these test results impact the lives of people who receive them, whether the knowledge of an “at risk” allele within a family affects family interaction, and how to inform individuals that new research may have changed the interpretation of their genetic variants.
 
Answering these kinds of questions will involve interdisciplinary collaborations involving many types of researchers, including biologists, social scientists, ethicists, psychologists, and health service researchers, the authors explain.
 
As an example of a “starting point” for this type of research, McBride and colleagues discuss the Multiplex Initiative, a project they are leading that plans to recruit 500 individuals whose genomes will be analyzed for 15 genetic variants that are associated with increased risk for eight common diseases.
 
The initiative will examine social and psychological differences between who opts to be tested and who does not, how test results are interpreted, and if receiving results lead subjects to seek out other personal risk information such as family history or behavioral risks.
 
The initiative is only “a modest first step ... toward understanding whether healthy individuals use genetic susceptibility testing in ways that could benefit their health," but McBride and colleagues expect it to “answer basic questions” about who takes these tests and who will most likely be the “early adopters of genetic susceptibility testing.”
 
The authors note that the field of personal genomics has "entered a period where only rigorous experimentation can provide the types of information needed to determine whether genetic susceptibility testing should become part of the accepted standard of care."
 
They warn that "plunging forward" into widespread genetic testing without performing translational studies will not only "not inform and advance the field," but could "yield a situation where technology alone will drive the market, resulting in products that are not responsive to public health priorities, are limited in reach, and are without benefit to the individuals and populations in greatest need."
 
— By Matt Jones, originally published on GenomeWeb Daily News
 

 
Sciona Gains CLIA Lab Certification for Personal Genetics Service
 
Personal genetics company Sciona said last week that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has certified its laboratory under the Clinical Laboratories Improvement Act.
 
Sciona was among 13 genetic-testing firms that received cease-and-desist letters from the state of California last month because their offerings were not in compliance with the state’s laws, which require that labs have a CLIA certificate and a license to operate as a clinical laboratory in California. In addition, the state said that all genetic tests must be ordered by a licensed physician.
 
Sciona, based in Aurora, Calif., said last week that its CLIA lab uses Illumina’s genotyping technology and is “devoted solely” to processing its personalized genetics products, which include a service called “mycellf,” which offers customers information on how their genetic makeup affects metabolism, diet, nutritional processing, and lifestyle.
 
The company said that its genetic testing products “address personal wellness, fitness, and nutritional issues” and that it “does not provide medical, diagnostic or specific disease related information.”
 
“Receiving the CLIA certification as a high complexity laboratory is a major milestone for the company and its future," said Sciona CEO and President Peter Vitulli in a statement.
 

 
Integrated DNA Technologies Expands European Oligo-Production Facility
 
Integrated DNA Technologies said last week that it has completed the expansion of its European oligonucleotide production facility in Haasrode Research Park in Leuven, Belgium.
 
The oligonucleotide developer, headquartered in Coralville, Iowa, said the 21,500-square-foot facility will allow it to provide better services for its customers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
 
Bonnie Barney, IDT’s senior vice president of European sales and marketing, said that the company now employs 20 staffers in Europe and that the new facility gives it the ability to produce around 4,000 oligos daily.
 
The company also said it has expanded its direct sales force in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and in the Benelux nations, but did not provide further details.
 

 
New Zealand, Canada to Work on $5M Wine Genomics Collaboration
 
Scientists from Canada and New Zealand, along with some help from the US, will work together on a CDN$5 million ($4.96 million) collaboration to use genomics to discover ways to improve wine from New World areas, the University of Auckland said last month.
 
The WineGen project, which involves multiple parties in both Canada and New Zealand, as well as the US Department of Agriculture, will focus on finding molecular and biochemical changes that occur in the process of making wine. The collaborators will study changes that happen during grapevine cultivation, grape processing, and yeast fermentation.
 
The research players involved in WineGen include the University of British Columbia’s Wine Research Centre, the New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology Wine Programme, the University of Auckland, Hortresearch, the Marlborough Wine Research Centre, Lincoln University, and Niagara College. Genome British Columbia is providing CDN$1.5 million of WineGen’s funding.
 
Also contributing to the collaboration are Calona Vineyards, Poplar Grove Winery, and Burrowing Owl Winery.
 
“The collaboration will allow NZ researchers to access genomics technologies at UBC and to assess differences between grape growing areas in different parts of the world,” University of Auckland project leader Richard Gardner said in a statement.
 
Gardner explained that the New Zealand research “is looking at the distinctive aroma of Sauvignon Blanc.”
 
WineGen also will include a social sciences approach, as it will work with Simon Fraser University researcher Michael Howlett to evaluate interactions in the Canadian wine industry “in the context of adopting and regulating innovative genomics-inspired technologies and interactions between industry, science, policy-makers and the general public,” the University of Auckland said.
 

 
Canada Gives Genome Alberta $800K for Research Networks
 
Genome Alberta, the genomics-focused arm of the Life Sciences Initiative Alberta, will receive a CDN$800,000 ($793,000) grant from the Canadian government’s Western Economic Diversification Canada.
 
Genome Alberta will use the money over four years to develop and implement four pan-western genomics networks that will focus on research into food, health, renewable resources, and the environment.
 
Genome Alberta also will use the funds to participate in a larger effort involving eight other networks led by Genome British Columbia and Genome Prairie, both of which received CDN$800,000 from the WEDC in March of this year.
 
“This funding will boost Genome Alberta’s efforts to take genomics research and technology out of the lab and into the lives of Albertans,” Genome Alberta CEO David Bailey said in a statement. “Together the three organizations will be able to build strong networks to further our work in key areas around the bioeconomy, natural resources, and health.”
 

 
SuperArray Bioscience Changes Name
 
SuperArray Bioscience said last month that it has changed its name to SABiosciences and has moved into a new facility in Frederick, Md., that is three times larger than its previous location in the same city.
 
The new building has 43,000 square feet and supports 150 full-time employees.
 
The firm said that the name change and relocation reflects the firm’s expansion into additional technologies beyond gene expression analysis.
 
“We are not just a microarray company anymore,” SABiosciences VP of Sales and Marketing Dave Martz said in a statement. “To provide our vision of a systems biology approach in a post-genome era, SABiosciences now also offers gene function analysis solutions such as RNA interference, ELISA kits, cell-based reporter assays, as well as chromatin immunoprecipitation and other products for epigenomics research.”

The Scan

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

US Survey Data Suggests Ancestry Testing Leads Way in Awareness, Use of Genetic Testing Awareness

Although roughly three-quarters of surveyed individuals in a Genetics in Medicine study reported awareness of genetic testing, use of such tests was lower and varied with income, ancestry, and disease history.

Coral Genome Leads to Alternative Amino Acid Pathway Found in Other Non-Model Animals

An alternative cysteine biosynthesis pathway unearthed in the Acropora loripes genome subsequently turned up in sequences from non-mammalian, -nematode, or -arthropod animals, researchers report in Science Advances.

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.