Consumer DNA-testing company Mountain View, Calif.-based 23andme Inc. has entered a deal to merge with VG Acquisition Corp. (VGAC), a special purpose acquisition company founded by billionaire Richard Branson. The agreement values the Silicon Valley company at $3.5 billion, with CEO Anne Wojcicki and Branson each investing $25 million into a $250 million private investment in public equity offering. Other investors include Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Altimeter Capital, Casdin Capital and Foresite Capital. Current shareholders of 23andme will own 81% of the combined company, with the deal expected to close in the second quarter of 2021. A merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, allows 23andme to go public without the uncertainty or holding an initial public offering. The combined company will have a pro forma cash balance of more than $900 million. Once the deal is closed, VGAC will change its ticker to ME and the combined company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Columbia, Md.-based Ambu Inc., a developer of single-use endoscopes, has been granted national single-use endoscopy contract expansions with U.S. group purchasing organizations (GPOs). With these expansions, Ambu is now on contract with all four major GPOs in the U.S. with either a full or partial portfolio of single-use endoscopy categories available for the customers that are served by the GPOs. On one contract, Ambu’s aScope 4 Cysto has been added, while Ambu’s aScope Duodeno has been added on another. The expanded agreements strengthen Ambu’s position in single-use bronchoscopes, rhinolaryngoscopes, and now cystoscopes and duodenoscopes for the duration of the contracts.

Natick, Mass.-based Curadel Surgical Innovations Inc., a company specializing in the development of near-infrared fluorescent contrast agents for image-guided surgery, reported a worldwide distribution deal with a tier one medical technology company to distribute ZW800-1 in the U.S. and EU, upon approval by the U.S. FDA and the European Medicines Agency respectively. ZW800-1, when used in conjunction with an appropriate imaging system, provides contrast by converting NIR light from a lower wavelength to a higher one, visually enhancing the anatomical structure with high sensitivity and specificity. With high brightness and renal-only clearance, a low dose of ZW800-1 has been shown in phase II clinical trials to provide several hours of visualization of the ureters.

Dxs International plc, a digital clinical decision support company headquartered in Farnham, U.K., said there are presently 12 pilots of its Expertcare hypertension solution at various stages, with a total of 30 pilots planned, each with a minimum of at least 30 patients. According to Initial results from four completed pilots in GP practices, patient noncompliance with prescribed treatment was reduced from 41% to 21% and prescribing regimen, particularly in patients with comorbidities, improved in 15% of cases.

Durham, N.C.-based Emitbio Inc. reported new evidence from laboratory testing showing its proprietary light technology can inactivate multiple coronaviruses beyond the one that causes COVID-19, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). These findings indicate a likelihood the technology will also be effective against SARS-CoV-2 variants, according to the company.

Essilorluxottica SA, of Charenton-le-Pont, France, and San Ramon, Calif.-based Coopercompanies have entered an agreement to create a 50/50 joint venture for the acquisition of Sightglass Vision Inc., a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company focused on developing innovative spectacle lenses to reduce the progression of myopia in children.

San Diego-based Illumina Inc. reported an agreement with the Belgian Society of Medical Oncology, which is running a national pilot to assess the use of comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP) in 864 patients with advanced metastatic cancer. The BALLETT (Belgian Approach for Local Laboratory Extensive Tumor Testing) study will recruit patients from 12 participating sites to be offered CGP from one of nine next-generation sequencing laboratories across Belgium. Data from CGP will be used to determine the best therapeutic options for patients through access to targeted medicines with the aim of improving clinical outcomes in advanced cancer. The study will begin next month.

Haifa, Israel-based Insightec Ltd. said it has received U.S. FDA IDE approval to conduct a pivotal study to evaluate stage, bilateral focused ultrasound treatment of patients with medication-refractory essential tremor. The study has so far recruited 15 patients.

New York-based Medidata, a Dassault Systèmes company, said it has expanded its partnership with Horizon Therapeutics plc, of Dublin. Starting in 2017 with one technology, Medidata will now provide a diverse suite of solutions for Horizon’s clinical research needs in multiple therapeutic areas including ophthalmology, rheumatology and nephrology.

Mnx Global Logistics, of Long Beach, Calif., is collaborating with Webops LLC, of Roswell, Ga., to offer medical device manufacturers and distributors an end-to-end solution to manage inventory and logistics of case level surgical kits. The complementary solutions include transportation and logistics, final-mile white-glove inside deliveries, and inventory and management.

Milan, Italy-based Newronika SpA., a spinoff of Policlinico of Milan and the University of Milan, reported the first patient implanted with the AlphaDBS adaptive closed-loop deep brain stimulation (DBS) system. The company has initiated a multicenter study to evaluate the system in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Oxford Immunotec Global plc, of Oxford, U.K., said it has updated the configuration of its T-Spot Discovery SARS-CoV-2 kit, for research use only, to include only antigens that have been shown to induce robust T cell responses specific to the COVID-19 virus. An additional panel has been included containing epitopes of high genetic homology to endemic human coronaviruses (HCoV). This panel will facilitate research into the role HCoV play in the immune response to SARS-Cov-2 infection, the company said.

Waltham, Mass.-based Parexel and Neogenomics Inc., of Fort Myers, Fla., have forged a strategic partnership to advance the application of precision medicine in oncology clinical trials by applying real-world genomics data to accelerate patient matching and optimize trial design, site selection, clinical development and translational research.

Amsterdam-based Royal Philips NV and the Dutch SAZ (Association of Collaborating General Hospitals) have inked a strategic partnership agreement for a minimum of five years in the area of connected care. The partnership will encompass the monitoring, observation and self-management of patients throughout the entire care journey, both inside and outside the hospitals, supported by Philips advanced patient monitoring and population health management solutions.

Phillips-Medisize Corp., of Hudson, Wis., is teaming up with Subcuject ApS, of Hellebaek, Denmark, to bring a wearable bolus injector to market. Based on osmosis, delivery system is now available for the next stage of drug-specific wearable injector solution development following Sucuject’s intellectual property filing of the concept.

Pieriandx Inc., of Creve Coeur, Mo., reported a partnership with the Belgian Society of Medical Oncology to study the impact of comprehensive genomic profiling on clinical outcomes of late-stage cancer patients. As part of the study, nine sites across Belgium will use the Pieriandx interpretation and reporting solution, Clinical Genomics Workspace, to help determine the best therapeutic options for treatment.

San Diego-based Quidel Corp. opened a new manufacturing facility in Carlsbad, Calif., that will be dedicated to the production of the Quickvue line of products, which includes rapid antigen tests for COVID-19. The 128,000 square-foot facility will scale operations from 50 million tests per year to 50 million tests per month at full capacity. The company plans to begin operating the new facility in the second half of 2021.

RNA Disease Diagnostics Inc. (RNADD), of Toronto, reported an exclusive global license to a cutting-edge sensor technology jointly owned by University of Maryland, Baltimore and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. RNADD's first product will be a rapid point-of-care COVID-19 test with accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity that is comparable to an RT-PCR lab diagnostic.

Sera Prognostics Inc., of Salt Lake City, said the American Medical Association (AMA) has assigned a new, dedicated Current Procedural Terminology Proprietary Laboratory Analysis (PLA) code to facilitate billing and payment for the Pretrm Test, the company’s proteomic blood test for measuring a woman’s risk of spontaneous preterm birth to enable timely intervention. This code is included in the revised set of PLA codes the AMA released on Dec. 30, 2020, with an effective date of April 1, 2021.

China-based Shanghai Fosun Long March Medical Science Co. Ltd. (Fosun Long March) has executed a nonbinding letter of intent with San Antonio-based Bioaffinity Technologies Inc. providing for Fosun to evaluate Cypath Lung, a noninvasive test for the early detection of lung cancer, with an expectation of negotiating and entering into binding agreements to commercialize the early lung cancer diagnostic in China. Fosun Long March is a high-tech in-vitro diagnostics enterprise active in manufacturing, marketing, and research and development of diagnostic and laboratory instruments and reagents. It is a wholly owned company of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co. Ltd.

Stella Diagnostics Inc., of Salt Lake City, entered a partnership with Mprobe Inc., of Mountain View, Calif. The partnership aims to build, optimize and further validate Stella's novel panel of proteomic biomarkers designed to detect and quantify proto-oncogenes present in precancerous esophageal tissues.

Tcg Lifesciences Pvt. Ltd., of Kolkata, India, reported the expansion of its operations in the U.S. with the establishment of the subsidiary Tcg Greenchem Inc. The subsidiary provides chemistry, manufacturing, and control development services, utilizing 57,000 sq. ft. of laboratory space in Princeton South, N.J., and Richmond, Va.

Varian Medical Systems Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., said it has started the installation of the cyclotron and gantry for its Probeam 360° single-room proton therapy system at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health's Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute. The treatment center will be the first in the world to have a Probeam 360° system and is expected to treat its first patients in 2022.

Vuzix Corp., a West Henrietta, N.J.-based supplier of smart glasses and augmented reality technology, reported that it has completed the first phase of development with a medical partner located in the U.S. to build a customized head mounted display system for assisted medical cancer surgery.