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GeneFormatics Adds X-Ray Crystallography to Structural Proteomics Toolbox

NEW YORK, April 9 - GeneFormatics announced its intention Monday to delve into x-ray crystallography, adding to the company's current arsenal of computational and NMR techniques for predicting and determining protein structures.

The move mirrors a recent trend towards integrating complementary techniques for determining protein structure under the roof of one company. In January, GeneFormatics, which initially specialized in computationally predicting protein structure, acquired Structure Function Genomics, a Princeton, N.J.-based company that has developed high-throughput NMR techniques for determining protein structure. Now, GeneFormatics has appointed Stephen Anderson, one of the founders of Structure Function Genomics, as chief technology officer, and has hired Anthony Kossiakoff to lead the company's efforts to develop a x-ray crystallography program. Kossiakoff is currently chairman of the deparment of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Chicago.

"Through these important additions, GeneFormatics takes significant steps toward establishing itself as the first company to have a fully-integrated structural proteomics capability to enable the novel assignment and confirmation of protein function and structure," John Chiplin, GeneFormatics' CEO, said in a statement.

GeneFormatics' appointments follow Structural Genomix's acquisition last week of Prospect Genomics, a company specializing in algorithms for predicting protein structure and modeling their interactions. Structural Genomix's focus had been on x-ray crystallography, said CEO Tim Harris, and lacked the computational methods Prospect Genomics provides

Last October, Syrrx, another company specializing in determining protein structures using x-ray crystallography, began licensing modeling software from MolSoft to help the company predict how proteins interact with small molecule drug candidates in silico

Meanwhile, Integrative Proteomics, based in Toronto, has been busy assembling a combined experimental platform with x-ray crystallography, MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, and NMR instruments. In March, Bruker agreed to provide the instrumentation to Integrative Proteomics, as well as contribute equity, in exchange for an undisclosed fee.

"There is increased value [to pharmaceutical companies] in attacking proteins from a number of different angles," said John Mendlein, CEO of Integrative Proteomics. "You need to take a sophisticated, multi-faceted approach."  
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