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Markers/Short Reads: Sep 1, 2003

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RNAi therapeutics firm Benitec has kept a low profile since its founding in 1997. But in June the Brisbane, Aust.-based company was awarded patents in the US and UK covering the use of DNA-directed RNAi that Benitec says will reshape the current landscape of RNAi IP.

 

The Prolinx staff isn’t answering the phone anymore. The Bothell, Wash., company, founded in 1995 with proteomics and array technology, has filed for bankruptcy. The last news release issued by the company came out in October 2002 and announced a restructuring that was hoped would help Prolinx focus on delivering a product.

 

Caliper Technologies, which recently acquired Zymark, laid off 50 employees, or less than 10 percent of its combined workforce. The reduction will help the company save $10 million annually, according to Caliper.

 

In better news, Lucigen won a $750,000 SBIR grant from DOE to commercialize its gene mining technology, funded through the Genomes to Life program.

 

Sloning BioTechnology won €1,144,000 in grants from the Bavarian state and German government to develop its technology for gene synthesis. Based near Munich, the three-year-old company has 18 employees.

ParAllele BioScience and Baylor College of Medicine formed a collaboration to examine the genetic basis of certain congenital heart irregularities that affect children and possibly the elderly as well.

 

Abbott Laboratories and Dharmacon teamed up to develop an siRNA library covering 4,000 genes to select drug targets. Dharmacon also announced that Stephen Scaringe, former CEO, is now CSO of the company.

 

Eli Lilly signed a three-year lease for 10,000 square feet of research space for structural genomics studies. The project will be done in conjunction with Structural Genomix, with whom Lilly signed a research agreement earlier this year.

 

The University of Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics scored $2.4 million in federal aid for 2004. Ultimately, the center is looking to take in another $12 million to wrap up the $25 million in federal funding it originally requested.

 

Nonlinear Dynamics said it did not renew an OEM agreement with the proteomics group at Amersham Biosciences, which has used Nonlinear’s software in its products since 1996. Nonlinear CEO Will Dracup attributed the decision to a divergence between the companies’ proteomics efforts.

Rubicon Genomics announced a deal with the Sanger Institute for DNA amplification in studies of diabetes and obesity. The research will look at 5,000 subjects.

 

PPD closed its Menlo Park, Calif., functional genomics facility as part of a restructuring. The company will also consolidate its discovery research, currently distributed between centers in North Carolina and Wisconsin. PPD partner SurroMed, which plans to move into the Menlo Park space, will study some of PPD’s cancer biomarkers.

 

This month, federal programs looking to give away money have hit the road. In an eight-day, six-state bus tour, representatives from various agencies including NIH, NSF, DOD, and NIST will make themselves available to meet with people looking to capture their chunk of the $1.6 billion being offered by the agencies. Details on the mid-September tour, which hits primarily western states, can be found at www.sbiroutreach.com.

 

An Indiana University research team led by evolutionary geneticist and biology professor Michael Lynch was awarded a $5 million, five-year NSF grant to study the causes of genetic recombination.

 

TurboWorx packed up its New Haven, Conn., digs and moved to Burlington, Mass., to accommodate more growth in the company.

 

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.