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Metabolon, The Lancet, CombiMatrix, NKT Holding


Metabolon Closes on $4 Million First Round

Metabolon, a Research Triangle Park, NC-based metabolomics research and development startup headed by John Ryals, the ousted CEO of Paradigm Genetics, closed on a first round of $4 million in venture capital last week.

Investors included: Aurora Funds of Durham, NC; Trelys Funds of Columbia, SC; and unidentified individual investors.

Metabolon is a two-year-old offshoot of Cambridge, Mass.-based Avicena Group. The company was moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina this year, where it is hosted in the BD technology incubator. Craig Venter is a member of the company’s scientific advisory board.


Microarrays Used to Predict Chemotherapy Response In Breast Cancer, Lancet study

A preliminary study published in the Aug. 2 issue of The Lancet reported that a gene-expression profiling technique using microarrays could predict which breast cancer sufferers would respond to chemotherapy.

The study, which was partially funded by Aventis, was conducted over two years and involved 24 women receiving docetaxel, a common breast cancer chemotherapy drug. Scientists used arrays to find 92 genes that correlated with docetaxel response. This group of genes positively predicted drug response 92 percent of the time.

This was the first study to successfully predict chemotherapy response in breast cancer using this technique, according to Jeff Boyd, director of the Gynecology and Breast Cancer Research Laboratory at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.


CombiMatrix Q2 Revenues Down, Amid $5.8M Cash Payments

CombiMatrix recorded $6,000 in revenues for the second quarter of 2003, down from $438,000 for the year-ago period, the company’s parent Acacia Research, reported last week.

The revenues came atop $5.8 million in cash payments from CombiMatrix’ partners, including $4.5 million in milestone payments from Roche to commercialize its microarray system, $308,000 to deliver prototype products to Roche, and $1 million to Toppan Printing of Japan in a deal announced in May to develop electrochemical-detection microarrays. These payments are being recorded as deferred revenues, Acacia said.

For the quarter, CombiMatrix had R&D expenses of $2.2 million, compared to $5 million for the year-ago period.

The division’s net losses came to $5.2 million, compared to $5.9 million for the second quarter of 2002.

At the end of June, CombiMatrix, of Squolamie, Wash., had $19.3 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments.


Danish Biochip Company Cantion Shuts Down

NKT Holding, a technology holding company based in Copenhagen, Denmark, last week announced the closing of Cantion, a two-year-old biochip research and development firm with six employees, according to a report in the publication Nordic Business Report.

NKT was unable to sell the firm or find new investors: “Potential buyers and investors alike, however, consider that Cantion’s level of development is such that prospects for a return on investment are still a long way off,” the company said in a statement. The company was launched to commercialize technology developed by Mikroelektronik Centret (MIC), Technical University of Denmark.


The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.