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Purification, Standards Challenge Protein Expression


Purification ranked as the top challenge in protein expression research, according to a survey performed by a new research group that’s part of the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities.

The survey was previewed at ABRF’s annual conference in Tampa and was one of 11 such surveys and research projects undertaken by ABRF and its research groups during the past year that covered both proteomics and non-proteomics topics.

Proteomics- and protein-specific projects included work on standards and quantitative methods and technologies.

For its first research project, the new group, the Protein Expression Research Group, chose to do a survey to get a read on the concerns of researchers doing protein expression experiments.

ABRF formed PERG last year as a result of growing demand from researchers whose work was becoming throttled by the complexities of protein expression work, says Michael Doyle, a PERG member and group leader of the Protein Biochemistry Core Laboratory at Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research.

“It’s becoming a bigger and bigger bottleneck in the scientific industry at large, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, but also in academia,” he says.

In a presentation at the conference, John Hawes, a PERG member and assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Miami, Ohio, says that PERG’s goal is similar to all the other research groups of ABRF: to educate the organization’s members and the scientific community about the tools and technologies available, in this case for “maximizing expression and purity of recombinant proteins.”

In total, 33 laboratories responded to the PERG survey. When asked what process was the biggest problem in their laboratories, 44 researchers answered purification, making it the top problem by a 2-to-1 margin over mammalian expression, which was cited as the second-biggest problem.

PERG members did not expect the finding. “I thought it was going to be more in expression,” Doyle says.
— Tony Fong

Short Reads

GenoLogics and Proteome Software partnered to sell a bundled lab and data management system. The system, called Proteus-Analytics, combines GenoLogics’ Proteus lab and data system with Proteome’s ScaffoldBatch protein visualization and identification software to help researchers manage their data and confirm protein identifications.

Oklahoma State University’s department of entomology and plant pathology will be using Syngene’s Dymension to study the two-dimensional protein profiles of aphids, honey bees, termites, and ticks, according to the company.

NeoGenomics and Power3 Medical Products have put in place a contract research organization to sell Power3’s protein biomarker-based diagnostics. As part of the deal, NeoGenomics has a non-exclusive license to Power3’s protein biomarker intellectual property. The CRO is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

Norvartis hired Warnex to work on its leukemia and intestinal tumors program. Warnex plans to use liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to analyze blood levels of Gleevec in patients’ blood to spot sub-optimal dosing or noncompliance.

GlaxoSmithKline will be using Procognia’s protein arrays to profile kinase kits. As part of the agreement, GSK will be using its own kinase inhibitors during these studies to determine whether Procognia’s protein arrays can be made part of GSK’s drug screening process.


US Patent 7,199,364. Electrospray ion source apparatus. Inventor: Rohan Thakur. Assignee: Thermo Finnigan. Issued: April 3, 2007.

According to the patent abstract, this device has “an electrospray interface for forming ions from a liquid sample in a mass analyzing system.” It also has a “gas passageway positioned near the capillary tube for directing a first gas stream into the ionization chamber, and a second gas passageway positioned more remotely from the capillary tube for directing a second, low-velocity gas stream into the ionization chamber.”

US Patent 7,196,326. Mass spectrometer and reaction cell for ion-ion reactions. Inventors: Jochen Franzen and Evgenij Nikolaev. Assignee: Bruker Daltonik. Issued: March 27, 2007.

“The invention relates to a reaction cell for reactions between different types of ion species and a related mass spectrometer to analyze the ion products. … Particularly favorable is an ion guide made up of a set of coaxial apertured diaphragms with a slight axial potential gradient,” says the patent abstract.

Data Point

€1.8 million

ProteomeBinders, a consortium of 26 European and two US partners, received €1.8 million of seed money. The group, which is one year old, will be cataloguing and making binding molecules to aid in finding and identifying human proteins.

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