Ghent University, MDxHealth Open Epigenomics Center

Ghent University and MDxHealth have established a new Center in Pharmaco (Epi)genomics, NXTGNT, aimed at advancing personalized medicine through the development of individualized epigenetic-based diagnostic and therapeutic products. Located at Ghent University in Belgium, the new facility houses MDxHealth's resources for creating epigenetic tests along with the Ghent University team for performing epigenetic sequencing. The Ghent University Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics also provides the new Center with expertise in epigenetic characterization, and computing and visualizing epigenomic datasets. Jan Groen, PhD, CEO of MDxHealth, believes that, by combining the epigenomics experience of Ghent and his company, NXTGNT will help fill the growing need for novel technologies, biomarkers, and assays "as more drugs are being developed alongside companion tests."

Quest Sells OralDNA to Access

Access Diagnostics has bought substantially all of the assets of Quest Diagnostic's OralDNA Labs salivary-diagnostics business for an undisclosed sum. Prior to this acquisition and starting in 2008, Access Genetics provided support for OralDNA-based testing services for dental professionals. OralDNA's testing services will now move from its Brentwood, Tenn. facility to Access Genetics' CLIA- and CAP-certified lab in Eden Prairie, Minn. This transaction follows in the wake of Quest's November 2012 reorganization, and is part of the company's ongoing plan to focus resources on its core diagnostic information services business for physicians and hospitals.

AbbVie Separates from Abbott

Abbott has split into two independent companies, completing a planned separation from its research-based pharmaceuticals business that was first announced in October 2011. The separation has created the biopharmaceutical company AbbVie, which focuses on "highly specialized, market-leading therapies for some of the world's most difficult-to-treat diseases," according to Miles D. White, chairman and CEO of Abbott. Meanwhile, Abbott's diagnostics, medical device, nutritionals, and branded generic pharmaceuticals businesses will remain under the Abbott moniker.

Bio-Rad Buys AbD Serotec

Bio-Rad Laboratories has acquired AbD Serotec, a division of MorphoSys AG, for $53 million in cash. AbD Serotec is one of the world's leading antibody manufacturers, with a comprehensive catalog of more than 15,000 antibodies, kits, and accessories. Gaining access to AbD Serotec's extensive offerings will allow Bio-Rad to better serve its customers by offering total assay solutions that can be validated on Bio-Rad's research platforms for western blotting, multiplex protein expression, ELISA, and cell sorting, according to Brad Crutchfield, president of Bio-Rad's Life Science Group. He added that the acquisition will enable Bio-Rad to "exploit a powerful in vitro technology to accelerate future antibody generation." The transaction was expected to close in January 2013.

NIH Funds Three 23andMe Projects

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) granted 23andMe more than $500,000 to support three projects that take advantage of the company's web-based research platform capabilities. The first grant will fund genome-wide association studies aimed at improving allergy diagnostics and therapies by assessing genetic factors affecting allergic disease risk, gene-environment interactions, and treatment responses. The second grant will then support an investigation of error rates from emerging next-generation sequencing technologies, with the goal of validating their accuracy before they become broadly adopted. Lastly, 23andMe will use the third portion of funding to expand the utility of its database, which includes phenotypic and genetic data from more than 180,000 customers. This improved database has the potential to "accelerate the translational process of moving research discoveries to practical applications for patients," said Nicholas Eriksson, PhD, the primary investigator heading up this project. Overall, Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe co-founder and CEO, hopes these grants will help 23andMe use its unique research approach to further the understanding of human genetics.