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NASA, Eden Prairie, Axaron Bioscience, BioDiscovery, European Union

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NASA Resumes Life Sciences Research in Space

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration will load a set of life sciences experiments onto Russia’s Progress launch vehicle scheduled for launch on Jan. 29, the first biological experiments launched into space since the space shuttle Columbia broke up in the skies over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003.

Among the experiments announced by NASA is a microgravity study of gene expression in yeast designed by co-investigators Cheryl Nickerson from the Tulane University Health Sciences Center, and Tim Hammond of Tulane University and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New Orleans.

After a two-day flight, the NASA experiments will be transferred to the International Space Station, where they will remain for several months, NASA said in a statement. While in space, the yeast will be activated with a growth solution. After a period of time as long as a year, the yeast colonies will be fixed and preserved for return to earth for gene-expression profiling against yeast genes from ground-based growth.

The experiment is funded through NASA’s Office of Biological and Physical Research’s Fundamental Space Biology Division, commercial groups working through the office’s space product development unit, and other NASA centers.


$450K in DARPA Funds for NVE to Develop Biochip Nano Material

Eden Prairie, Minn.-based NVE said this week that it has won an additional $450,000 from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for developing devices for the agency’s advanced Bio-Magnetic Interfacing Concepts program. The company has now received $1.2 million in funding for this research.

NVE will develop devices incorporating the atoms-thin material it manufactures for use in lab-on-a-chip applications, the company said in a statement.


Axaron Inks Deal for Axaminer Technology with Max Planck Institute

Axaron Bioscience said this week that it has signed a service contract to provide its Axaminer gene expression profiling technology to the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research.

Under the arrangement, said Axaron, the technology will be used by Max Planck Institute researchers in a project analyzing the molecular processes of glutamate-mediated signal transduction. Financial details were not disclosed.

Axaminer is a service for cell type-specific transcription profiling that includes: cell labeling, automated cell isolation using laser microdissection, RNA isolation and amplification, and profiling.

Axaron, formerly known as BASF-Lynx Bioscience, was formed in 1997 as a joint venture between the chemical company BASF and Lynx Therapeutics.


BioDiscovery Licenses GeneDirector To Irish Research Centers

BioDiscovery of El Segundo, Calif., announced last week the licensing of its GeneDirector enterprise microarray analysis platform to the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Center at University College of Cork, Ireland, and Teagasc, the Irish Agricultural Research Center, Dublin.

Financial terms were not disclosed.


EU Awards €12M to Create BioSapiens Net, A Pan-European Bioinformatics Network

The Commission of the European Union has awarded €12 million to 24 bioinformatics groups based in 14 European countries to create the BioSapiens Network of Excellence in Bioinformatics.

The network will create a pan-European virtual research institute and will also support a European school for training in bioinformatics, according to a statement from the European Bioinformatics Institute, one of the centers in the network.

The grant was awarded under the sixth Framework Program (FP6), the EU’s main means of funding research in Europe.

The BioSapiens Network’s first project will be a distributed genome annotation project. Each center, or network “node,” will focus on one aspect of genome annotation. The results will be integrated via the Distributed Annotation System (DAS), developed by Lincoln Stein at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and made freely accessible through a single portal on the web.

BioSapiens is coordinated by a steering committee that includes EBI director Janet Thornton, Søren Brunak of the Technical University of Denmark, Anna Tramontano of the University of Rome, and Alfonso Valencia of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid. Kerstin Nyberg of the EBI will serve as project manager.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.