Dx Digest: Illumina strikes sequencing deal with 10x Genomics; White House calls for more Zika testing in $1.8B proposal

Welcome to Dx Digest, where FierceMedicalDevices highlights the highs and sometimes lows of the past week in diagnostics. Illumina inked a sequencing deal with California's 10x Genomics. Cofactor Genomics snatched up San Francisco's Narus Biotechnologies to get its hands on the company's RNA diagnostic tests for neurological diseases. And the Obama administration asked Congress for funds to improve diagnostics for the Zika epidemic. Read on for the details. And as always, feel free to contact us with any comments or questions. -- Emily Wasserman (email | Twitter)

Illumina strikes deal with 10x Genomics for long-range sequencing

Illumina ($ILMN) has not wasted any time in the new year, recently revealing new sequencing offerings and unveiling its liquid biopsy spinoff, Grail. Not content to sit back with the status quo, the company is charging ahead with its latest venture, a partnership with California's 10x Genomics for long-range sequencing.

Illumina and 10x are staying quiet on financial details, but the deal will allow the pair to market 10x's Linked-Read sequencing products and Illumina's sequencing systems, which could in turn help researchers. The sequencing tools allow scientists to better analyze the genome and remap difficult regions that require longer reads. "Our customers will benefit from the new possibilities enabled by our combined technologies," Illumina's chief commercial officer, Christian Henry, said in a statement. Release

Cofactor Genomics scoops up Narus Biotechnologies to gain ground in RNA testing

St. Louis-based Cofactor Genomics has been hard at work on its RNA-based test, a tool that identifies small, looping pieces of RNA to provide a better picture of what's going on inside a patient's body. In its latest move, the company is acquiring San Francisco's Narus Biotechnologies to beef up in RNA diagnostics.

Neither side is revealing financial terms, but the deal "advances Cofactor's expansion into RNA-based diagnostics" and furthers the company's plan to develop RNA-based tests for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, it said in a statement. Cofactor has agreements with 9 pharma companies to use its RNA tests for disease discovery and the latest deal could help it attract more partners.

Narus' home base in San Francisco could also give Cofactor a boost as the company "secures the resources necessary" to ramp up its RNA testing, CEO Jarret Glasscock said in a statement. "In addition to acquiring Narus' assets related to RNA biomarkers, we gain an extremely talented team that is already helping to accelerate Cofactor's RNA-based diagnostic roadmap," Glasscock said. Statement

Obama administration doubles down on Zika with call for diagnostic funding

Health experts are calling for speedier tests to address the growing Zika epidemic and the Obama administration is heeding their requests. The administration earlier this week asked Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to combat the virus, including initiatives that would improve diagnostic testing for Zika.

About half of the funding would go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is rolling out its own plans for addressing Zika. One of the agency's initiatives includes using advanced technology to refine tests and targeting new ways to diagnose the virus.

Meanwhile, the CDC is dealing with the first cases of the virus that are cropping up in the U.S. The agency this week sent Zika testing kits to Florida after 16 cases were confirmed in the state. None of the confirmed cases were contracted in the state, though, The Associated Press reports. More | Story

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