Illumina Buys Genomics-Based Diagnostics Company BlueGnome

Illumina purchased genomics-based diagnostics company BlueGnome for an undisclosed sum. BlueGnome's main offerings include 24sure, a preimplantation genetic screening test that shows the potential to improve in vitro fertilization (IVF) success rates, and CytoChip, a first-line cytogenetic test for genetic abnormalities associated with developmental delay or complex leukemias. The company's focus on cytogenetics and IVF screening solutions supports Illumina's goal to become a leading provider in these areas. On BlueGnome's side, president and CEO, Nick Haan, said, "The throughput and data quality of Illumina's sequencers enable us to consider revolutionary new approaches to genetic testing."

Beckman Coulter to Acquire IRIS International

Beckman Coulter, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Danaher Corporation, announced a definitive merger agreement with IRIS International, Inc. Beckman Coulter will acquire IRIS, which produces automatic in-vitro diagnostics systems, for approximately $378 million at $19.50 per share. "IRIS provides an excellent complement to Beckman Coulter's core business, as we continue to focus on our strategy of serving the core hospital laboratory," said Tom Joyce, Beckman Coulter's president and Danaher's EVP. With Beckman Coulter's strong commercial infrastructure, IRIS will be able to expand the reach of its automated and semi-automated urinalysis products. Beckman Coulter might also benefit from IRIS's unique cell imaging technology, which could potentially be used to improve Beckman's hematology product lines. The deal between the two companies is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Wako Life Sciences Joins Ranks of Diagnostics Companies

The former diagnostics division of Wako Chemicals USA, Wako Life Sciences, has become a fully incorporated diagnostics company focused on developing and commercializing microfluidic test systems for the immunoassay and molecular diagnostic markets. The new company headquarters are in Mountain View, Calif., while its research and development facilities and commercial operations are in both Mountain View and Richmond, Va.

UPMC Enters Data Warehouse Initiative with Oracle, IBM, Others

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has made a 5-year, $100 million investment to create a data warehouse with Oracle, IBM, Informatica, and dbMotion that will focus on personalized medicine. The data warehouse will include clinical, financial, administrative, genomic, and other hard-to-analyze information from more than 200 sources across UPMC, UPMC Health Plan, and other labs and pharmacies. This information will be processed using advanced analytic and predictive modeling applications to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. "UPMC, with the help of the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute, has methodically studied best practices in analytics both inside and outside of health care," said Lisa Khorey, UPMC vice president of enterprise systems and data management. With this current initiative, she added, UPMC aims to use what the organization has learned to move towards a personalized medicine model.

Life Technologies and Bristol-Myers Collaborate to Develop Co-Diagnostics

Life Technologies and Bristol-Myers Squibb have entered a master development agreement that creates a long-term partnership to develop companion diagnostics. Life Technologies president of medical sciences Ronnie Andrews said, "As more and more targeted drugs come onto the market in the next decade, there will be a growing need for diagnostics that can help predict which patients will benefit from which drugs." With its broad portfolio of genetic and proteomic analysis platforms, Life Technologies will be able to give a pharmaceutical company such as Bristol-Myers a "flexible, cost-effective means to manage the evolution of the companion diagnostic assay through the drug development process," added Andrews. The two firms' first project together will focus on oncology, a specialty in which the demand for companion diagnostics is predicted to rise due to the hundreds of oncology drugs currently in clinical trials.

PrimeraDx Awarded Grant to Develop DLBCL Assay

The National Cancer Institute-sponsored Innovative Molecular Analysis Technologies Program has awarded PrimeraDx a grant to develop an assay to detect diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) subgroups. The assay will be designed for use on PrimeraDx's ICEPlex automated real-time PCR platform, and will test formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens. This assay has the potential to improve upon gene-expression profiling (GEP) with snap frozen tissues, the current method for classifying DLBCL subtype cells-of-origin. GEP is not practical in many lymphoma cases because it requires frozen tissue, a shortcoming that PrimeraDx's novel approach remedies.

Trovagene Enters Licensing Agreement with Quest Diagnostics

Trovagene finalized a deal with Quest Diagnostics that grants Quest a non-exclusive license to incorporate nucleophosmin protein (NPM1) into research and clinical testing services related to acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). According to Trovagene chief technology officer Charlie Rodi, PhD, this will help the company expand patient access to the NPM1 marker on a global scale. "Physicians need accurate tools to assess prognosis, select therapies and evaluate for bone marrow transplant," he said. "Use of this marker can help physicians more effectively treat patients with AML." Currently, chromosome analysis is the most common method that provides guidance for physicians treating AML patients. Because the method is effective in only about half of AML cases, screening for NPM1 mutations could become a valuable addition to the array of available AML co-diagnostics.

Sysmex America Relocates Headquarters

Sysmex America, the U.S. subsidiary of Japanese company Sysmex Corporation, has relocated its corporate offices to a new facility in Lincolnshire, Ill. This site will serve as headquarters for the Americas along with the company's logistics operations center in Buffalo Grove, Ill., and its Mundelein, Ill., reagent plant. "Our new building supports the infrastructure that our continued growth requires, as well as accommodates for future expansion," said John Kershaw, president and CEO of Sysmex America.