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Short reads: Jul 1, 2001 (rev. 1)

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Merck’s $620 million Rosetta acquisition in May was great fodder for the industry rumor mill. It seems Merck’s CEO Raymond Gilmartin joined Microsoft’s board just two weeks before the acquisition. Meanwhile, Microsoft has been making noise about pursuing pharma industry business. And a member of Rosetta’s board is from Vulcan Ventures, the VC outfit run by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. What of this tangled web, you ask? To a conspiracy theorist it’s obvious: Merck bought Rosetta to secure a Seattle-based bioinformatics team for its future work with Microsoft. Time will tell.

Think politics gets ugly? Try science. Scientists at Stanford University studied more than 1,000 proteins from Celera’s Drosophila genome and said their findings indicate many mistakes in the sequence. Led by bioinformaticist Samuel Karlin, this group suggested these errors call into question Celera’s human genome sequence as well. Meanwhile, researchers at TIGR published a paper saying that the human genome project’s hypothesis about lateral gene transfer from bacteria appears unfounded. All we need is a filibuster and pork barrel to complete the scene.

Acquisition alert:

Sequenom bought former partner and gene research firm Gemini Genomics for 12.9 million shares.

Harvard Bioscience acquired Union Biometrica, which has an automated system to study gene function, for an approximate value of $17.5 million.

Can’t get enough partnerships? Chalk one up for these companies: Gyros and Affibody formed an alliance to develop and commercialize an automated microfluidics-based protein microarray platform.

PerkinElmer and MDS Sciex joined forces to work on TOF-based mass spec technology. Meanwhile, MDS Sciex carries on a mass spec co-marketing deal with Applied Biosystems.

Incyte and Iconix are collaborating on a chemogenomic data system, including data management tools and mining software.

Agilent and MDS Proteomics will work together on faster proteomics technologies.

Hybrigenics and the Institut Curie opened a joint lab for functional proteomics research directed at cancer therapeutics. IBM and MDS Proteomics teamed up to launch Blueprint Worldwide, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to deliver a public protein-interaction database building on existing public resources.

Amersham will package pattern-finding software from Proteometrics in its new Ettan mass spec instrument, to be unveiled in September.

 

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.