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UPDATE: Protein Sciences, HTS to Develop Protein Chips and Catalog

NEW YORK, Nov 30 - Protein Sciences Corporation and HTS Biosystems announced an expanded proteomics collaboration Thursday, in which they will jointly develop protein chips as well as a catalog of proteins and related molecules.

Under the agreement Protein Sciences has provided HTS Biosystems, a Hopkinton, Mass., high-throughput screening service provider for the proteomics market, with exclusive rights to use its protein library and to market smaller quantities of proteins and protein chips.

Protein Sciences will maintain the rights to produce the proteins and affinity molecules in bulk. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the agreement.

The protein catalog the two companies are developing provides documentation on each molecule that traces the molecule to its original source. Customers will be able to obtain the molecules in bulk from Protein Sciences, which uses a proprietary insect cell technology to produce proteins for pharmaceutical and biotech companies such as human genome sciences.

This is the first major step into the market for HTS, which is 73 percent owned by Minnesota-based Quantec, and 18 percent owned by Applied Biosystems. The remaining nine percent is held by assorted private entities

HTS recently completed a first round of financing, raising $1.9 million financing in July, and plans to introduce its first product, the Flex Chip Kinetic Analysis System, in the second half of next year. The Flex Chip system uses HTS proprietary technology to enable real-time detection of biomolecular events without reporter labels.

Protein Sciences, which has been selling its proteins since 1983 for use in vaccines and other therapeutics, is seeking a foothold in the emerging pharmaceutical proteomics market through its partnership with HTS, said Manon Cox, vice president of corporate development at Protein Sciences.

“We have a lot of proteins on the shelf, and they have an interesting technology used for high throughput screening,” Cox said. “There may be a few pennies of royalties on the sales of chips, but our interest is in getting in with pharma and biotech companies at an early stage.”

Protein Sciences and HTS hope to attract pharma through offering the unique combination of protein chips and FDA-quality proteins.

“Once a customer buys the protein assay tools it will be a functional seamless process to go from a protein found in one of the systems to getting proteins for injection-grade products,” said Enrico Picozza, chief operating officer at HTS Biosystems. “It cuts out a lot of stuff in the middle.”

HTS also hopes to address different parts of the proteomics market through offering several platforms for detection of chemical activity. One system is a surface plasma resonance system, which monitors changes of thin levels of the 2-d gel environment when the molecules bind with each other; another utilizes a combination of fluorescence and chemiluminescence, said Picozza, who left Applied Biosystems in May to join HTS.

The consumables for this system are based on the same compression process used to make CD-ROMs, making the manufacturing process cheap.

In addition to protein sciences, HTS has signed up two early access partners for its technology and   secured partnerships with other partners and distributors, said Picozza. The company plans to publicly announce these collaborations in the coming weeks.

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