Sciona relocates to U.S. from UK

Sciona (Boulder, Colorado), a privately held biotechnology company focused on genetic personalization, has moved its headquarters from the UK to Boulder and has named Boulder businessman James Bruce as CEO.

Sciona researches and develops DNA screens for common gene variants that affect an individual's response to food, medications and the environment.

Bruce brings extensive experience in the health and pharmaceutical industries, most recently as president and CEO of Madous, a pharmaceutical/nutraceutical company. Previously, he held the same positions at CV Technologies, an early stage drug discovery enterprise, and at Natrix International, the mass-market subsidiary of Amrion. Prior to those posts, he was a successful marketing consultant and international business development manager, working extensively in Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Sciona's former CEO, Dr. Chris Martin, now is the company's chairman. He will continue to reside in the UK.

Currently, Sciona's products center on the Cellf genetic screen that gives consumers nutritional guidelines based on individual genetic profiles to support continued good health.

Illumina in pact with Mayo Clinic

Illumina (San Diego) announced an agreement with the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) for the purchase and installation of an Illumina BeadLab at Mayo's Rochester location. The BeadLab, a production-scale genetic analysis laboratory, will be used for research into the genetics of cancer and other complex diseases.

While focused initially on SNP genotyping and the analysis of genetic variation, Mayo's researchers said they expect to use the BeadLab for a range of integrated genetic studies, including whole-genome and focused gene expression for the analysis of biological and metabolic pathways. The BeadLab will be available to Mayo Clinic investigators at all three Mayo Clinic sites (Jacksonville, Florida; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Rochester).

The BeadLab is an end-to-end genetic analysis solution built around Illumina's BeadArray technology and featuring extensive automation, parallel sample throughput, high-multiplex assay protocols, low running cost per sample and industry-leading performance. When installed, the new BeadLab at the Mayo Clinic will have the capacity to produce routinely 1 million genotypes per day.

The BeadLab also will support gene expression profiling of large sample sets and new methods such as Illumina's DASL assay for profiling of degraded RNAs from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples.

CMS sets temporary code for Palatin product

Palatin Technologies (Cranbury, New Jersey) said that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS; Baltimore) has established a temporary HCPCS (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System) reimbursement code for the payment of NeutroSpec, Palatin's radiolabeled monoclonal antibody product for imaging and diagnosing infections.

This reimbursement code allows Medicare reimbursement for infection imaging in an outpatient setting. "This is a significant milestone in the commercial development of NeutroSpec," said Carl Spana, PhD, president and CEO of Palatin. "The issuance of this reimbursement code is an important, initial step in ensuring broad reimbursement coverage for NeutroSpec as we continue to work in conjunction with Mallinckrodt Imaging [St. Louis] our strategic collaboration partner, to maximize NeutroSpec's commercial value."

CMS issues temporary HCPCS codes while permanent HCPCS codes are being established, a process that usually takes six to 12 months.

Licensing agreement expanded

MorphoSys (Martinsried/Munich, Germany) reported a further expansion of its existing license agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb (New York). Under the amended agreement, MorphoSys grants Bristol-Myers Squibb access to its HuCAL GOLD library for use in that company's pharmaceutical discovery programs for target characterization and validation, as well as for therapeutic and diagnostic antibody product development. Financial details were not disclosed.

Prior to the most recent expansion of the existing license agreement, Bristol-Myers Squibb had a non-exclusive license to use prior versions of MorphoSys' HuCAL library and the AutoCALTM system, which is MorphoSys' established system for fully automated high-throughput antibody generation, installed at one of Bristol-Myers Squibb's facilities in the U.S.

MorphoSys develops and applies innovative technologies for the production of synthetic antibodies, which accelerate drug discovery and target characterization.

Specialty Laboratories relocates

Specialty Laboratories (Valencia, California), a hospital-focused clinical reference laboratory, reported the completion of its relocation to Valencia. Clinical testing referred to Specialty is now being performed at Specialty's new clinical laboratory and headquarters facility in Valencia, about 30 miles north of Specialty's former locations in Santa Monica, California.

The company has ceased all of its operations in Santa Monica.

Specialty's new purpose-built facility of 198,000 square feet is nearly twice the size of its former configuration, significantly increasing available space for growth. Its new clinical laboratory incorporates advanced mechanical, structural and architectural features to support quality control, specimen management and optimized work flow.