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Swiss Aren’t Neutral on Proteomics

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Swiss company Geneva Proteomics was rumored to be negotiating a joint venture with Celera, but now that it has secured $40 million in financing, the company’s officers figure that instead they’ll compete.

GeneProt’s founders, who have ties with Geneva Bioinformatics (GeneBio) and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, a leading developer of proteomics software, say they will build the “world’s first dedicated proteomics factory.”

Keith Rose, chief scientific officer, said GeneProt is “producing and accumulating massively parallel proteomic data” and “concentrating most of its effort on making the factory production process as robust as possible” in order to have one or two proteomes completed by the end of next year. GeneProt’s technology will separate and identify proteins using enzymes to cut them into small pieces and laser mass spectrometry for analysis. By first quarter 2001, the company intends to have 50 mass spectrometers in place.

But other proteomics explorers are using similar methodology to the same ends. The process has even already been partially robotized by the UK’s Oxford GlycoSciences and Large Scale Biology, in Vacaville, Calif.

Asked how he hopes to fare against the well-funded competition, GeneProt’s president Robin Offord said, “There’s room for everybody. There are over 256 tissues and more than 1,000 diseases.” If each of those has a proteomic profile there will be room for many more competitors.

Reporting by Adrienne Burke, Sandra Katzman, Christopher Maggos, and Dennis Waters

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