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BioArray Briefs: Feb 15, 2002

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Ciphergen: Protein Chips used in Seminal Ovarian Cancer Detection Study

 

In a new Lancet study finding distinct protein biomarkers for ovarian cancer, researchers used Ciphergen Biosystems’ protein chips, the company said this week.

The study, which was conducted by National Cancer Institute and US Food and Drug Administration researchers and is published in the February 16th issue of the Lancet, was released eight days early as the Lancet editors deemed its results too groundbreaking to delay any further: Currently there is no reliable early detection method for ovarian cancer, one of the most deadly forms of cancer in women.

The researchers compared blood serum samples from 50 ovarian cancer patients to those of 50 women without ovarian cancer using Ciphergen protein chips. They found signature proteins that were present in the 50 disease samples, and then successfully used these patterns to correctly select out 50 ovarian cancer patients from a blinded sample of 116 serum samples with and without the disease. In addition to this 100 percent sensitivity, the test had a 98 percent specificity level, and a 94 percent positive predictive value. In other words, three samples were read as false positives.

Ciphergen’s chips use a process known as surface enhanced laser desorption ionization(SELDI), a process similar to mass spectrometry on their surface. The latest version of this system is designed to enable analysis of protein expression in crude clinical samples such as the serum samples in this ovarian cancer study, as well as laser capture microdissection, biopsies, tissue, and urine.

The company has sold over 225 systems, and said this equipment has been used in studies of prostate, colon, lung, liver, pancreatic, bladder, and stomach cancer; as well as leukemia, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases; and toxicological studies.

 

Fluidigm Sells Flexi-Fluidic chips to GlaxoSmithKline

 

Fluidigm, the South San Francisco microfluidics company that designs flexible rubber chips, has sold its technology to GlaxoSmithKline.

Under the deal, Fluidigm will provide GlaxoSmithKline with microfluidic tools and design software for chip customization, as well as microfluidic chips. Glaxo is planning to use these chips in the pharmaceutical development process.

The advantage of these chips, according to Fluidigm, is that their rubber material and manufacturing process enables them to be designed and fabricated significantly more cheaply than other microfluidics chips, and within a matter of weeks, not months as with other microfluidic chips. This process, multi-layer soft lithography, involves molding the two layers of the chip separately on top of channel designs etched in silicon, then sandwiching them together. Additionally, the flexible chip material enables the chips to be designed with tiny pressure-sensitive valves, pumps, and mixers that can facilitate fluid control and mixing at the micro level without using capillary electrophoresis.

This deal comes after Fluidigm’s November series C fundraising round, in which it raised $34 million. To date, Fluidigm has raised over $50 million.

 

HHS Center to Provide Landing Pad for Genomics Companies in Federal Government

 

The US Department of Health and Human Services has launched the Council on Private Sector Initiatives to Improve Security, Safety and Quality of Health Care, a new liaison between businesses with new health care ideas — especially ones related to bioterrorism preparedness — and the federal government.

The council was designed to hear business ideas that will improve “public health preparedness and the delivery of health care services,” said HHS secretary Tommy Thompson in a statement.

The new forum will serve as a switching station for companies that want to develop “new ideas,” apply for grants or programs, or sell new products to the federal government.

It was launched in order to make this process easier and more streamlined: Rather than navigate the alphabet soup of federal health agencies, companies can approach the council directly, which will then refer requests to the appropriate department.

Member agencies include the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Food and Drug Administration, the US National Institutes of Health, the Office of Public Health Preparedness, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, among others.

The council held its first meeting on January 23, and is currently reviewing requests from 18 companies. Contact information is available at www.cpsi.ahrq.gov.

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.