Find here a listing of the latest industry news in genomics, genetics, precision medicine, and beyond. We will update and add to this page on a regular basis. This page is not a compilation of all relevant information but rather contains some key highlights that we consider to be of importance to share with the community.
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News for the month of March 2021
COVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2
- Got Questions About Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Vaccine? We Have Answers A great article to why we should not disregard the Johnson & Johnson COVID19 vaccine too early.
- How Do COVID-19 Vaccines Compare? A side-by-side look at the three vaccines authorized in the U.S.
- The short-term, middle-term, and long-term future of the coronavirus
- BioNTech founders receive one of Germany’s highest honors The founders of BioNTech, Özlem Türeci and Ugur Sahin, will receive the Knight Commander’s Cross of the Federal Order of Merit for developing a coronavirus vaccine, Germany’s presidential office announced on Friday.
- Merck to Help Produce Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Vaccine; BARDA to Provide Merck With Funding to Expand Merck’s Manufacturing Capacity for COVID-19 Vaccines and Medicines The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will provide Merck with funding of up to $268.8 million to adapt and make available a number of existing manufacturing facilities for the production of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 vaccines and medicines.
- Antibody Response Affects COVID-19 Outcomes in Kids and Adults New study shows that the antibody responses in kids and adults with mild COVID-19 are quite similar. However, the complications seen in kids with MIS-C and adults with severe COVID-19 appear to be driven by two distinctly different types of antibodies involved in different aspects of the immune response.
Mergers & Acquisitions
- Bio-Techne to Acquire Asuragen for up to $320M
- Agilent to Acquire Resolution Bioscience, Strengthening Leadership Position in Cancer Diagnostics Combination brings together Resolution Bioscience’s noninvasive liquid biopsy platform for cancer diagnostics with Agilent’s tissue-based companion diagnostics and global commercial and regulatory scale.
- Hologic Acquires European Molecular Diagnostic Company Diagenode for Approximately $159 Million
- Guardant360® CDx Liquid Biopsy CE-Marked for Comprehensive Tumor Mutation Profiling Across All Solid Cancers
- Myriad Genetics Joins Forces with Intermountain Precision Genomics for a Comprehensive Offering of Germline and Somatic Tumor Testing Services
CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing
- CRISPR For COVID-19: Approaches To Speeding Therapeutic Discovery
- LNP Delivers CRISPR Directly to Mouse Liver, Dramatically Cuts Cholesterol Levels for Months New lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology that can package and deliver CRISPR gene editing machinery specifically to the liver.
- Spatial Surge: AGBT Updates On Single-Cell and Spatial Genomics, In Situ Analysis, More Includes product development updates from Vizgen, NanoString Technologies, Inc., Pacific Biosciences, ROSALIND (formerly OnRamp Bio), 10x Genomics, and Rebus Biosystems.
- NanoString Launches Technology Access Program for the Spatial Molecular Imager (SMI) Platform and Showcases Spatially Resolved Transcriptomic Research at AGBT 2021
- Rebus Biosystems launches spatial transcriptomics analysis platform
- New Best Buy Health services for Apple Watch aim to keep older adults safe and independent Apple Watch users must download Lively App and subscribe to the Lively Health and Safety Services to use the Best Buy Health features on their watch. Lively Health & Safety plans start at $19.99 a month.
- Amazon Care, Intermountain, Ascension launch hospital-at-home healthcare alliance
- QIAGEN (QGEN) Launches QIAcube Connect MDx Platform Globally
- Rock Health and Stanford Digital Health published Digital Health Consumer Adoption Report 2020 – Surveyed 4,000 consumers to understand consumer adoption of digital health technologies. Over the five years prior to 2020, adoption has steadily climbed. As the global pandemic came along in 2020, digital health solutions were not simply an enhancement anymore, but rather a necessity in healthcare access and delivery.
- Identification of rare and common regulatory variants in pluripotent cells using population-scale transcriptomics
News for the month of February 2021
February brought on an interesting series of SPACs in the genomics sector – if you are not familiar with this term, it means Special Purpose Acquisition Company which translates into a company going public via a merger. 23andMe, Nautilus Biotechnology, and Sema4 all went public via a SPAC. 23andMe merged with Virgin Groups VG Acquisition Corp [the business combination values 23andMe at an enterprise value of ~$3.5B], Nautilus Biotechnology merged with Arya Sciences Acquisition Corp III [the combined company is expected to receive proceeds of approximately $350M at the closing of the transaction], while Sema4 combined with CM Life Sciences [the combined company is expected to receive proceeds of up to ~$793M at the closing of the transaction, up to $343M of which will be paid to Sema4 stockholders and the remainder of which will be utilized by Sema4 for its business to be operated under the same Sema4 management team].
COVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2
- Pacific Biosciences Sequel II Systems Deployed to Scale-Up Global Viral Surveillance Initiatives Focused on COVID-19
- Backed by Google, epidemiologists launch a sweeping Covid-19 data platform
- 7 Virus Variants Found in U.S. Carrying the Same Mutation Scientists don’t know yet whether the mutation makes the variants more contagious, but they are concerned that it might.
- INSIGHT: A population-scale COVID-19 testing strategy combining point-of-care diagnosis with centralized high-throughput sequencing New COVID-19 testing strategy (INSIGHT) uses barcoded isothermal NASBA reaction to combine NGS and point-of-care diagnosis to hopefully achieve population-scale testing.
- Could mixing COVID vaccines boost immune response? Researchers in the United Kingdom have launched a study that will mix and match two COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to ease the daunting logistics of immunizing millions of people — and potentially boost immune responses in the process.
- Myths of Vaccine Manufacturing Derek Lowe talks about why it is impossible to suddenly unleash dozens of companies to crank out the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines – mostly due a lack of knowledge about what these vaccines are & how they’re produced.
- Orna Therapeutics Launches with over $100M Raised to Develop a New Class of Fully Engineered Circular RNA Therapies
- WuXi Diagnostics Secures US$150 Million Series B Financing to Accelerate Market Penetration in Global Diagnostics Sector
- AnchorDx Completes USD 40 Million Series C Financing to Advance Cancer Screening and Early Detection Programs
- Quantgene Raises $6 Million, Sets Marketing Partnership
- Evox Therapeutics reels in $95M to propel exosome-based pipeline
- Micronoma Raises $3.5 Million in Convertible Note Financing
- Pacific Biosciences Announces $900 Million Investment from SoftBank to Support Growth Initiatives
- Personal Genome Diagnostics Announces Close of $103 Million Series C Financing
- Illumina Accelerator Invests in Nine Genomics Startups for Second Global Cycle Includes companies in genomics, microbiome, ageing, longevity, women’s health, and more.
- Syapse Lands $68M to Expand Global Precision Oncology Data Sharing Network
Mergers & Acquisitions
- CRO consolidation continues with ICON buying PRA Health Sciences for $12B
- IBM Closes Deal to Acquire Merge Healthcare
- Thermo Fisher Scientific Acquires Leading Cell Sorting Technology from Propel Labs
- Exact Sciences To Acquire Ashion Analytics And Enter Research Collaboration With City Of Hope’s Genomics Institute, TGen
- Sema4, a Disruptive AI-driven Genomic & Clinical Data Platform Company, to Combine with CM Life Sciences to Accelerate Growth
- Next-Gen Proteomics Company Nautilus Biotechnology to List on Nasdaq Through Merger with Arya Sciences Acquisition Corp III
- 23andMe to Merge with Virgin Group’s VG Acquisition Corp. to Become Publicly-Traded Company Set to Revolutionize Personalized Healthcare and Therapeutic Development through Human Genetics The transaction is valued at an aggregate enterprise value of approximately $3.5 billion
- Veracyte to Acquire Decipher Biosciences for $600 million
- QIAGEN announces Digital Partner Program with five initial partnerships
- As All of Us moves to diversify medicine, its tech partners push to democratize research Talks about Terra, an open-source system worked on by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard , which has currently more than 15,000 users (including the All of Us Research Program with Researcher Workbench) . In January the platform announced a multiyear partnership with Microsoft but will also be available on the Google Cloud.
- Leading Health Providers Unite to Advance Patient Care by Forming Truveta Leading health providers have come together in unprecedented fashion to unite around the goal of improving the lives of those they serve through data insights. Through structuring, normalizing, and de-identifying data from these health providers, a new data platform will be built, with careful protection of patient privacy and security. This new platform, using the power of AI and machine learning, will enable unprecedented insights as providers are able to learn from each other with statistically significant scale and representation of diverse populations.
- Stanford Medicine launches in-house service for whole genome sequencing
- H3 Biomedicine Partners with Flatiron Health, Foundation Medicine for Cancer Drug Research
- NIH’s TOPMed program publishes data on over 53,000 diverse genomes
- SOPHiA GENETICS and the Spanish Lung Cancer Group Team Up to Explore the Predictive Potential of Multimodal Health Data in Resectable Stage IIIA Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
- Is Precision Medicine Ready For Data From Billions Of Cells?
- Parexel and NeoGenomics Announce Strategic Collaboration in Precision Medicine to Improve Study Designs and Accelerate Patient Matching in Oncology Clinical Trials
- Scripps Research collaborates with Tempus to develop a predictive model of glucose responses
- Intermountain Healthcare Discussing World’s Largest Pediatric DNA Mapping Effort Intermountain Healthcare launches HerediGene: Children’s Study | will involve the voluntary collection of 50,000 DNA samples of children as young as newborns, as well as their parents and siblings who wish to participate.
- ASCO names molecular profiling of gastrointestinal cancer ‘Advance of the Year’ acknowledging improvements in treatment that have resulted from molecular testing of patients’ tumors.
Genomics / Genetic Testing
- Tempus Launches Hereditary Cancer Germline Assay, xG This new germline sequencing assay, xG, a 52-gene panel identifies genetic variants associated with hereditary cancer syndromes and inherited risk of cancer.
NGS / Genomics Platforms
- Resolve Biosciences Announces Initial Results from Early Access Collaborations with Scientists Leading the Next Generation of Subcellular Spatial Analysis
- Natera and Personalis Partner for Personalized Monitoring in Oncology
- Twist Bioscience and Berry Genomics to Offer New NGS Solution to Advance Research and Precision Medicine
- NanoString Announces the Launch of the Whole Transcriptome Atlas with Data to be Presented at the Third Annual Spatial Genomics Summit on February 23, 202
- GenapSys Names Jason Myers CEO Myers currently serves as a member of the management team and a Director at Invitae, where he leads oncology strategy development. He joined Invitae in 2020 upon the acquisition of ArcherDX, a company he founded and led as President and Chief Executive Officer.
- New Study from Foundation Medicine and Collaborators Further Demonstrates the Clinical Utility of Blood-Based Comprehensive Genomic Profiling in Patients with Advanced Prostate Cancer
Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
- Scientists publish a blueprint to apply artificial intelligence to extend human longevity
- How AI-Generated Synthetic Genomes May Improve Privacy Generative models and AGs have the potential to become valuable assets in genetic studies by providing a rich yet compact representation of existing genomes and high-quality, easy-access and anonymous alternatives for private databases.
CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing
- Pfizer Selects Seven Bridges to Support RNA Sequencing Data
- 20-year anniversary of publications reporting the draft human genome sequence
- GenomePaint: Interactive Visualization of the Genome GenomePaint is a web-based, interactive visualization platform for whole-genome, whole-exome, transcriptome, epigenome and 3D-genome architecture of tumor samples. Its use, outlined in the Cancer Cell paper (10.1016/j.ccell.2020.12.011), captures the inter-relatedness between DNA variations and RNA expression, supporting in-depth exploration of both individual cancer genomes and full cohorts
- Steve Ballmer says he wishes Microsoft had entered cloud computing market earlier “I wish we probably started a year or so, two years earlier. We started actually with PaaS instead of infrastructure as a service. Probably we would do that a little bit differently. It cost us a little bit of time in the eventual battle, if you will, with AWS.”
- Pfizer and IDA Foundation Partner to Expand Access to Essential Cancer Treatments
- HDL Cholesterol Linked to Parkinson’s Disease Population study shows relationships between HDL levels and variability with incident PD
- Why Exosomes Are Being Explored as Diagnostic and Therapeutic Tools With an extensive list of biological functions, including high biological stability, intercellular messengers, among others, exosomes are becoming more widely used as biomarkers in liquid biopsies and drug delivery vehicles.
- Google Fit will soon use smartphone cameras to log heart rate and respiratory rate The new wellness features use machine learning to observe subtle changes in chest movement or blood coloration, and are slated to drop for #Pixeldevice users in the next month.
- Illumina and Sequoia Capital China Partner to Launch Genomics Incubator in China The company creation engine will focus on building life sciences startup companies advancing breakthrough applications in genomics.
- Illumina co-founder Mark Chee moves from the genome to the proteome with upstart Encodia
- Whole genome sequencing in the Middle Eastern Qatari population identifies genetic associations with 45 clinically relevant traits
- Identification of resistance pathways and therapeutic targets in relapsed multiple myeloma patients through single-cell sequencing Study defines a roadmap for integrating scRNA-seq in clinical trials, identifies a signature of highly resistant MM patients and discovers PPIA as a potent therapeutic target for these tumors.
- New immunotherapy target discovered for malignant brain tumors
- Large-scale study finds genetic testing technology falsely detects very rare variants
- Systematic detection of brain protein-coding genes under positive selection during primate evolution and their roles in cognition
- LincRNA-immunity landscape analysis identifies EPIC1 as a regulator of tumor immune evasion and immunotherapy resistance
- How dark matter of the genome interacts with mitochondria—and affects the fate of cancer
- Dynamics of RNA–protein interactions studied in living cells
- Sequencing of 53,831 diverse genomes from the NHLBI TOPMed Program
- Opposing immune and genetic mechanisms shape oncogenic programs in synovial sarcoma First peer-reviewed study using GeoMx DSP with next generation sequencing readout.
- Biallelic loss-of-function in NRAP is a cause of recessive dilated cardiomyopathy
- Long Noncoding RNA JAKMIP2-AS1 Promotes the Growth of Colorectal Cancer and Indicates Poor Prognosis
- Intranasal influenza vaccine spurs strong immune response in Phase 1 study
- Sixteen novel lineages of SARS-CoV-2 in South Africa Researchers analyzed 1,365 genomes and identified 16 new lineages of SARS-CoV-2 containing unique mutations. They found the most widespread C lineage in South Africa had 16 new nucleotide mutations compared to the original sequence.
News for the month of January 2021
During the month of January, attention was primarily directed towards the new SARS-CoV-2 variants (especially the ones that emerged from the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil). We’ve learned that these new variants have been more transmissible compared to the original virus, resulting in greater danger of risk of higher numbers in hospitalizations and deaths. In hopes of expanding the country’s surveillance to detect and characterize emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 Illumina and Helix started a collaboration to augment national surveillance infrastructure, while Quest Diagnostics was granted a CDC contract to sequence COVID-19 gene variants to identify new mutations and patterns of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
Other notable developments include announcements that took place during the JP Morgan Healthcare conference, such as the multi-year PacBio-Invitae collaboration to develop a production-scale, high-throughput clinical whole genome sequencing platform leveraging the power of PacBio’s HiFi sequencing technology, as well as Illumina’s launch of Illumina Connected Analytics (ICA), a cloud-based platform for multi-omics data exploration, coupled with machine learning, and tertiary analysis tools which harnesses the DRAGEN Bio-IT Platform (acquired in 2018) and BlueBee technology (acquired in 2020).
COVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2
- UAB-developed research tool will help scientists better understand COVID-19 PAGER-CoV is a database packed with nearly 12,000 (so far) pieces of genetic information on the SARS-CoV-2 virus
- UK to share genomics expertise to identify COVID-19 variants A New Variant Assessment Platform will open up Britain’s genomics laboratories and offer advice and resources to other countries in need.
- UK chief scientist says new virus variant may be more deadly
- In a major setback, Merck to stop developing its two Covid-19 vaccines and focus on therapies citing inadequate immune responses to the shots. Work will continue on at least one of the vaccines, which is being developed in partnership with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), to see if using a different route of administration would improve how effective it is.
- Quest Diagnostics Granted CDC Contract to Sequence COVID-19 Gene Variants to Aid Public Health Response to COVID-19 Large-scale longitudinal genomic survey of the SARS-CoV-2 virus using a random set of samples collected will be performed to understand viral variants and to mobilize an effective response to COVID-19.
- What we now know — and don’t know — about the coronavirus variants It is suggested that the virus variant dubbed B.1.1.7, came from a person who was immunocompromised and had a rare chronic case, essentially providing an incubator for the virus to accrue mutations as it replicated for weeks or months in that person’s body. The virus, the hypothesis goes, then spread from that person to others.
- Illumina and Helix Collaborate to Assess Prevalence of New SARS-CoV-2 UK Variant (B.1.1.7) in the US and Develop National Surveillance Infrastructure
For more in-depth reading, our compiled COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 news page lists selected coronavirus/COVID-19 news.
- Split Biosciences, now Parse Biosciences, Announces $7M in Series A Funding to Democratize Single-Cell RNA Sequencing
- Dante Labs £30M investment in Cambridge will support global COVID-19 sequencing surveillance program The £30M investment in the UK will be used to run a global surveillance programme of the new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, starting with a hardware and analytical capacity of 50,000 RNA samples per week.
- Sano Genetics, a startup helping with Long COVID research, raises £2.5M in seed funding with a broad mission to support personalised medicine research by increasing participation in clinical trials.
- Devyser receives Eurostars grant to develop novel DNA test for early detection of transplant rejection
- Two Cancer Companies Close Series A Rounds Netting $144 Million
- Elucida Oncology Closes $44 Million Series A-1 Financing
- Delfi Diagnostics Announces $100 Million Series A Financing to Develop a New Class of Early Detection Liquid Biopsy for Multiple Cancers
- NuProbe Closes $42M Fundraising
- Color raises $167 million funding at $1.5 billion valuation to expand ‘last mile’ of US health infrastructure
- Carrum Health Raises $40 Million to Transform Healthcare Delivery and Lower Costs through First-of-Its-Kind Digital Marketplace
Mergers, Acquisitions, and Partnerships
- Guardant Health and Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology Announce Partnership to Establish First Guardant-Based Liquid Biopsy Testing Service in Europe
- Broad Institute and Verily partner with Microsoft to accelerate the next generation of the Terra platform for health and life science research
- UnitedHealth to buy Change Healthcare for nearly $8 billion to boost tech services
- MemorialCare acquires OC Blood & Cancer Care
- Pharmacogenetic and Genealogy Pioneers Merge for Historic Partnership myDNA and Gene by Gene merge
- Insurer Centene to buy Magellan in a $2.2 billion mental health push
- Let’s talk about the ‘G’ word CEO of Genomics England, Chris Wigley, tells the importance to talk to as many people as possible about genomics which is why they have started a new podcast. ‘Genomics’ is a word that can trigger really strong responses: hope; fear; anger; other responses.
- Genuity Science and Emory University Announce Research Agreement to further the development of the Genuity Science population clinicogenomic database.
- Janet Woodcock, MD, Appointed Acting FDA Director
- BC Platforms, RIKEN and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) collaborate on artificial intelligence approach to identify people most at risk of from COVID-19
Genomic / Genetic Testing
- OncoDNA announces expansion of its services into the United States
- Ancestry deepens focus on Family History; will discontinue AncestryHealth as per their blog
- Leading Biopharmaceutical Companies Select Invitae to Develop Standardized Panel to Detect Molecular Residual Disease (MRD) in Patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
- Tempus Announces Companion Diagnostic Collaboration With A2 Biotherapeutics
- Helix® Laboratory Platform Granted the First and Only FDA Authorization for a Whole Exome Sequencing Platform This marks the first time such a broad, sequencing-based device has been authorized by the FDA.
- Invitae Reports Preliminary 2020 Financial Results of More Than $278 Million in Revenue and More Than 655,000 in Billable Volume
NGS / Genomics Platforms
- Technology could upend DNA sequencing for diagnosing certain DNA mutations New technique combines dPCR with high-speed atomic force microscopy (HSAFM) to create an image with such nanoscale resolution which allow the measurement of differences in the lengths of genes within a DNA sequence. These variations in gene length, known as polymorphisms, can be key to accurately diagnosing many forms of cancer and neurological diseases.
- BIORON and GENAPSYS start cooperation in Germany to offer new DNA-sequencing technology
- Oxford Nanopore’s Gene-Sequencing Is Helping the Global Battle Against Covid. It’s Now Considering an IPO
- Pacific Biosciences and Invitae to Develop Ultra-High-Throughput Clinical Whole Genome Sequencing Platform
- Illumina to Offer New Bioinformatics Solution Which Powers Multi-Omics Discovery at Massive Scale This new and integrated bioinformatics solution Illumina Connected Analytics Software provides a private, cloud-based data platform to manage, analyze, and explore large volumes of multi-omic data in a secure, scalable, and flexible environment.
CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing
- ‘Incredible’ gene-editing result in mice inspires plans to treat premature-aging syndrome in children
- DARPA Awards $36.7M to Six Organizations for Gene Editing-Based Dx, Biosurveillance Tech
- Mammoth Biosciences and Agilent Partner on High-Throughput CRISPR-Based SARS-CoV-2 Diagnostic Test
Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
- MIT’s oncological risk AI calculates cancer chances regardless of race It was trained and validated on datasets from the US, Europe and Asia.
- Transnetyx, One Codex Build Strategic Partnership to Provide a Complete Microbiome Analysis Service for Both Mice and Humans
- Two ways Fitbit could boost Google’s health ambitions
- Sharon Begley, path-breaking science journalist who spun words into gold, dies at 64
- President-elect Biden Announces Key Members of his White House Science Team includes Dr. Eric Lander as the Presidential Science Advisor-designate and nominee for Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and Dr. Francis Collins who will continue in his role as Director of the National Institutes of Health.
- QIAGEN Announces Global Distribution Agreement for the COSMIC Database from the Wellcome Sanger Institute
- Strata Oncology Announces Personalized Recurrence Monitoring Trial Study to Evaluate Strata’s Ability to Detect Tumor Recurrence using Liquid Biopsy and Monitor Treatment Effectiveness for Patients with Early-Stage Solid Tumors
- Haven, the Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan venture to disrupt health care, is disbanding after 3 years The move to shutter Haven may be a sign of how difficult it is to radically improve American health care, a complicated and entrenched system of doctors, insurers, drugmakers and middlemen that costs the country $3.5 trillion every year.
- Genome-wide association analyses of post-traumatic stress disorder and its symptom subdomains in the Million Veteran Program
- Systematic analysis of binding of transcription factors to noncoding variants
- Decoding the multicellular ecosystem of lung adenocarcinoma manifested as pulmonary subsolid nodules by single-cell RNA sequencing
- CRISPR-Cas9-mediated pinpoint microbial genome editing aided by target-mismatched sgRNAs New gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 can now allow the selection of cells with DNA structural alterations at single locations
- Prospective mapping of viral mutations that escape antibodies used to treat COVID-19 A deeper look into the viral mutations of SARS-CoV-2 and the antibodies being made to fight against it. Researchers have “completely mapped mutations that escape three leading anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies” in current vaccines.
- Differences between germline genomes of monozygotic twins
- ‘Incredible’ gene-editing result in mice inspires plans to treat premature-aging syndrome in children In mice with a progeria-causing mutation, a CRISPR cousin corrected the DNA mutation and prevents the heart damage typical of the disease. Treated mice lived about 500 days, more than twice as long as untreated animals.