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NIH, European Commission, Texas A&M University, Aria Biosystems, Sumitomo

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NIH Earmarks $2.5M for Genomic, Proteomic Research into Premature Birth in FY ‘05

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development will commit $2.5 million in fiscal year 2005 to genomic and proteomic research into premature birth, the NIH said last week.

The aim is to create a network for premature birth research, consisting of up to three clinical sites responsible for subject recruitment and specimen collection, an analytical core for genomic and proteomic analyses, and a data management, statistics, and informatics core for data management.

The network will conduct studies using large-scale genomic and proteomic approaches and make the results available in a public database. The aim is to understand the mechanisms responsible for premature birth, the leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality. Approximately 400,000 babies are born prematurely in the US every year.

Applications are due August 20. The RFA can be found here.


European Commission Issues €540M Call for Genomics and Biotech Research Proposals

The European Commission this week published the third call for research proposals in life sciences, genomics, and biotechnology in its Sixth Framework Program. The total budget for life science projects under the call is €540 million (US$648 million).

The call, available here, is seeking projects for “advanced genomics and its applications for health,” including fundamental knowledge and basic tools for functional genomics in all organisms, according to an EC statement.

The deadline for submitting proposals is Nov. 16, 2004.

The four-year FP6 program has a total budget of €17.5 billion, with €2.3 billion earmarked for life sciences research.


Horse Y Chromosome Mapped

Researchers have created a detailed physical map of the horse Y chromosome, presenting their results in last week’s online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists, from Texas A&M University and the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, found that about one third of the chromosome on the long arm consists of euchromatin, whereas the rest is predominantly heterochromatic.

According to the researchers, the map is currently the most informative among Y chromosome maps in domesticated species. It lays the foundation for sequence analysis of the horse Y chromosome, which might help understand male infertility in both horses and humans.


Aria Biosystems Raises $5.5M In First Round of VC Funding

Aria Biosystems, a biomolecular sensor startup, has raised $5.5 million in an initial round of venture capital financing, the company said today.

The Menlo Park, Calif. company said it will use the proceeds of this initial round to complete development of a first product and to further development of subsequent products.

Aria’s technology is based on fiber optics and adopted from the telecommunications industry. The disposable sensors are self-calibrating, and can can measure concentrations of analytes and binding kinetics in real time, without labeling, according to the company.

Alloy Ventures and Latterell Venture Partners co-led the round, and were joined by Agilent Ventures and Versant Ventures.

In conjunction with the financing, Aria announced that Craig Taylor, general partner of Alloy Ventures, James Woody, a venture partner of Latterell Venture Partners; and Deborah Neff, President and CEO of Predicant Biosciences, would be joining the company’s board, along with Winnie Wan, the company’s CEO and co-founder.

Other founding executives of Aria include Hong Tan, president and chief technical officer, Dave Hoyt, chief financial officer, and Bob Zuk, vice president of development.


Sumitomo Completes $77M Acquisition of Oxford Finance

Sumitomo has completed its acquisition of Oxford Finance, which has backed several genomics companies, the companies said today.

Sumitomo Corporation of America, the US arm of the Japanese-based global trading giant, paid $77 million in cash and debt for Oxford Finance, according to the companies. The transaction, first announced in January, was approved in a May 28 shareholder meeting.

Oxford, privately held and based in Alexandria, Va., has provided financing to several life sciences tools companies, including US Genomics, Structural Genomix, and Cellular Genomics. The company said its has a total of 50 active portfolio companies.

The Scan

White-Tailed Deer Harbor SARS-CoV-2 Variants No Longer Infecting Humans, Study Finds

A new study in PNAS has found that white-tailed deer could act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 variants no longer found among humans.

Study Points to Benefits of Local Consolidative Therapy, Targeted Treatments in Cancer Care

In JCO Precision Oncology, researchers report that local consolidative therapy combined with molecularly targeted treatments could improve survival for some lung cancer patients.

Genetic Variants That Lower LDL Cholesterol Linked to Reduced Heart Disease Risk

Rare variants in two genes that lower LDL cholesterol are also associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, according to a new JAMA Cardiology study.

Study Links Evolution of Longevity, Social Organization in Mammals

With the help of comparative phylogenetics and transcriptomics, researchers in Nature Communications see ties between lifespan and social organization in mammals.