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Industry Briefs: Aug 26, 2005


Protedyne Completes $10M Series D Financing Round

Protedyne said this week that it has raised a total of $10 million in a Series D round of financing.

Investors included investment bank and new participant Allen & Company, as well as existing investors The Sprout Group, Meridian Venture Partners, Long River Ventures, Village Venture Partners, and Boston Community Venture Funds, Protedyne said.

Qiagen had also previously participated in the Round D financing, Protedyne said.

Protedyne plans to use the proceeds for working capital purposes, including enhancements to its BioCube laboratory automation product, the company said.

Affibody to Develop, Produce Protein Ligands for Agilent's Sample Prep Products

Affibody of Stockholm, Sweden, will develop protein affinity ligands for Agilent Technologies' protein sample preparation products, the companies said this week.

Under the agreement, Affibody will design and develop affinity capture ligands for certain proteins specified by Agilent, using its Affibody technology. Agilent plans to incorporate these reagents into its protein removal technology for sample preparation. Eventually, Affibody will supply Agilent with production quantities of the reagents.

Affibody molecules are highly specific affinity proteins that mimic monoclonal antibodies. They are produced by combinatorial protein engineering applied on a proprietary scaffold.

Bruker AXS to Acquire French X-Ray Analysis-Software Firm Socabim

Bruker AXS will acquire French X-ray analysis-software company Socabim for an undisclosed sum, the company said last week.

Socabim has already been providing software for X-ray diffraction and X-ray fluorescence materials analysis to Bruker AXS. Bruker plans to merge Socabim with its own French subsidiary near Paris.

Socabim employees are expected to remain with the company following the acquisition, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2006.

"We believe that with the addition of the Socabim technology and R&D team, our products can accelerate their 'time-to-market,' and our X-ray systems for advanced research and process analysis [...] will be even more powerful and user-friendly," said Frank Burgazy, managing director of Bruker AXS and president of the French subsidiary, in a company statement.

ABI Developing New ProGroup Protein Identification Software

Researchers at Applied Biosystems are developing a new protein identification software called ProGroup that could result in a 20 to 50 percent increase in protein identification from mass spectra, according to an ABI researcher.

ABI's Sean Seymour, who gave a presentation on the new software in San Francisco this week at the Seventh International Symposium on Mass Spectrometry in the Health and Life Sciences, said the ProGroup focuses on the inference of protein identifications from peptide identifications, rather than on peptide scoring.

"Most of the heavy algorithm work in conventional protein identification softwares goes into scoring peptides," said Seymour . "But there's a limit to better scoring functions, because not all peptides fragment well. What we've done is focus on the protein inference problem. ProGroup takes a different approach to protein identification."

Seymour said the ProGroup software is currently in the research stage, and he does not know when it might be released.

NHLBI Earmarks $1.2M over Three Years to Fund Short Courses in Genomics, Proteomics

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is seeking applicants to develop short courses on the application of genomics and proteomics to heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders.

NHLBI issued a request for applications for the program, entitled "Short Courses on Application of Genomics and Proteomics to Complex Heart, Lung, Blood, and Sleep Disorders," on Aug. 10.

The institute intends to spend around $1.2 million on the program through 2009, with $300,000 allocated for 2006. NHLBI said it expects to fund 1 or 2 grants under the program.

NHLBI said in the RFA that the courses "should provide hands-on training to investigators interested in leveraging genomic and proteomic technologies and resources to advance the understanding of disease mechanisms of interest to the institute."

Letters of intent are due on Dec. 19, and applications are due Jan. 17, 2006.

MDS Sciex to Move Beyond Mass Spec with Upcoming Cell Analysis Platform

MDS Sciex is diversifying its product offerings beyond its flagship line of mass spectrometry instruments to include cellular analysis, the company said at IBC's Drug Discovery Technology conference, held recently in Boston.

MDS Sciex, the analytical instruments division of publicly traded biotech firm MDS, was previewing its newest product, CellKey, at the meeting. A company official told ProteoMonitor's sister publication Cell-Based Assay News that it plans to officially launch the product next month at the Society for Biomolecular Screening conference in Geneva.

CellKey is a label-free cellular analysis platform based on cellular dielectric spectroscopy. In this technique, cells are grown on electrodes embedded in microwell plates, and a constant low-level voltage is applied. A detection instrument senses changes in electrical impedance that result from changes in cell morphology, confluence, adherence, and interactions.

For further details about the product, MDS Sciex' commercialization plans, and the competitive landscape for this technology, see the Aug. 15 issue of Cell-Based Assay News.

CombiMatrix and ASU Center to Co-develop Peptide Synthesizer for Polypeptide Arrays

CombiMatrix and the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University plan to co-develop a peptide array synthesizer using CombiMatrix's virtual-flask technology, the partners said recently.

Terms of the agreement call for the partners to develop a peptide synthesizer that can build polypeptide arrays on CombiMatrix CustomArrays platform. As part of the alliance, the Biodesign Institute's Center for BioOptical Nanotechnology will buy CombiMatrix equipment and pay for the development costs. CombiMatrix, for its part, will grant technology rights and contributing expertise.

CombiMatrix and the Institute will share revenue from any peptide array synthesizer, peptide array products, or intellectual property that might be developed.

The Arizona Technology Enterprises, the technology commercialization company for ASU and the Biodesign Institute, helped facilitate the deal. The Center for BioOptical Nanotechnology "will pursue rapid commercialization of these technologies," CombiMatrix said in a statement.

Thermo Buys Ionalytics; Company's Technology Sold With Rival ABI's Mass Spec

Thermo Electron has acquired Ionalytics, a manufacturer of an ion-filtering device that enhances mass-spectrometer performance, for an undisclosed sum.

Currently, the technology, which is said to accelerate drug-discovery research, is marketed with mass spectrometers made by Thermo rivals Applied Biosystems and MDS Sciex. That deal, penned in November 2004, calls for MS Vision to sell and service Ionalytics' Selectra technology in Europe with ABI/MDS' API 300, 365, and 3000.

In a recent statement, Thermo did not mention that collaboration.

Selectra enhances mass-spectrometer performance by providing an additional dimension of ion separation, Ionalytics said in November. Based on FAIMS technology, Selectra transmits a targeted subset of ions into a mass spectrometer, resulting in improved detection limits, increased selectivity, and increased throughput, the company said.

Bruker Registers Mass Specs with Korean Regulators as Medical Devices for IVD Apps

Bruker Daltonics has registered its autoflex II MALDI-TOF mass spectrometers as class I medical devices with the Korean Food and Drug Administration, the company said recently.

The registration helps Bruker's customers obtain regulatory approval for mass spectrometry-based in vitro diagnostic methods they developed, according to the company.

The mass spectrometers are already being used by GeneMatrix of Korea for molecular diagnostics applications, which the company offers to medical centers and university hospitals in Korea, according to Bruker. The autoflex II instruments are also part of Bruker's ClinProt system for peptide and protein biomarker profiling.

Whatman/Schleicher & Schuell and German Clinical Dx Lab to Market Protein Chip-Based Autoimmune Assay

Whatman/Schleicher & Schuell and the Private Institute for Immunology and Molecular Genetics of Germany plan to market a diagnostic protein biochip for autoimmune diseases they have co-developed, Whatman said recenlty.

The chip, based on Whatman/Schleicher & Schuell's nitrocellulose-coated FAST slides, allows researchers to measure autoantibodies associated with collagenosis and vasculititis-related autoimmune diseases.

At the moment, the chip is being validated for compliance with CE guidelines for in vitro diagnostics. The companies plan to launch the diagnostic test at the end of the year.

GenTel Biosurfaces and Kreatech Biotechnology Sign Marketing and Sales Agreement

GenTel Biosurfaces and Kreatech Biotechnology announced recently that they have signed a marketing and sales agreement.

Under terms of the agreement, GenTel will market and sell ULS labeling reagents under their brand name Pandeia in diverse kit formats. The kits are validated for use on GenTel's Path protein microarray technology platform, and will be launched during the upcoming Chips to Hits conference in Boston in September.

Seattle Genetics Selects Tumor Surface Antigen Target from Celera for Further Therapeutic Development

Celera Genomics announced recently that a Celera tumor surface antigen target has been selected for further investigation by Seattle Genetics for therapeutic development.

The target is the first to be selected since a collaboration was established last year between Celera Genomics and Seattle Genetics to jointly discover and develop antibody-based therapies for cancer.

The Scan

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.

Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Survey participants appear to have higher genetic familiarity, knowledge, and skills compared to 2013, though 'room for improvement' remains, an AJHG paper finds.

Study Reveals Molecular, Clinical Features in Colorectal Cancer Cases Involving Multiple Primary Tumors

Researchers compare mismatch repair, microsatellite instability, and tumor mutation burden patterns in synchronous multiple- or single primary colorectal cancers.

FarGen Phase One Sequences Exomes of Nearly 500 From Faroe Islands

The analysis in the European Journal of Human Genetics finds few rare variants and limited geographic structure among Faroese individuals.