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North Carolina Biotechnology Center, PamGene, NuGen, GE Healthcare, Imaging Research, Brown University, University of Minnesota, Affymetrix


Start-Ups Get $300K from North Carolina Biotech Center

Two North Carolina biotech start-ups have received $300,000 from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, the center said last week.

ArrayXpress of Raleigh and Asklêpios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio) of Chapel Hill were awarded approximately $150,000 apiece by the privately-run non-profit, which was established by the state of North Carolina to nurture its local biotech industry. The grants were awarded as part of the center’s Small Business Research Awards program.

According to the center, ArrayXpress, a two year-old genomic sciences company, will use its loan to develop a diagnostic test for a swine disease. The company is developing diagnostic applications with its microarray technology.

AskBio, also established in 2003, will use its loan to develop a gene-therapy treatment for congestive heart failure, the center said.

PamGene Gets €2m in State Funds, Collaborates on Two Studies

PamGene, a Dutch DNA chip provider, has secured €2 million ($2.7) million in grant money from the Dutch government, the company said last week.

The funding was made available through SenterNovem, a government agency. PamGene said it will use the cash to help it develop systems biology and bioinformatics applications on its PamGene array platform.

The company also said that it is a participant in the European Union’s 6th Framework Program through an approved project that seeks to develop a rapid molecular diagnostic for mitochondrial diseases. Partners include the Nijmegen, Netherlands-based Radboud University Medical Center, , the University of Maastricht, and others.

PamGene will also be collaborating with the Netherlands Proteomics Center to improve protemics research tools and to aid its mission of achieving functional proteomics capabilities.

NuGen Looks to Build Reputation in New York Market by Partnering with AMDeC

Looking to raise its East Coast profile, NuGen will begin providing its Ovation RNA amplification systems to AMDeC Foundation, a consortium of more than 30 New York healthcare organizations, research institutions, and medical schools, the company said last week.

NuGen, which said it hoped its relationship with AMDeC would build the firm’s reputation in the New York market, has also agreed to sponsor AMDeC initiatives in the future, and provide members with on-site training programs for its amplification kits.

“Our collaboration will give us greater visibility at many New York State medical research institutions and further solidify our reputation as a significant emerging company in the functional genomics market place,” said Elizabeth Hutt, vice president of commercial operations at NuGen.

Maria Mitchell, the president of AMDeC, said that NuGen’s Ovation kits would be useful in biomedical research conducted by members that include Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Financial details of the agreement were not discussed.

GE Healthcare to Relocate Imaging Research Business to NJ from Canada

GE Healthcare will relocate Imaging Research, the Ontario-based bioinformatics and screening company it acquired with Amersham, to Piscataway, NJ, later this month, BioArray News’ sister publication GenomeWeb News has learned.

The company, which employed 45 staffers as of December 2003, will formally shut down its St. Catharines, Ontario, facility before the end of the month, according to people familiar with the event. Amersham acquired Imaging Research in 2003, and GE Healthcare bought Amersham one year later.

A telephone call placed to Imaging Research was routed to a general company mailbox. The mailbox still identifies the company as Amersham Biosciences Niagara.

GE Healthcare did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

According to Imaging Research’s website, the company’s products and services include laboratory-imaging systems and gene expression-analysis software, such as the ArrayVision software for the quantifying gene-expression arrays, and ArrayStat, which analyzes expression array data.

The company also sells ultra-highthroughput screening platforms, such as LEADseeker, and the IN Cell Analyzer 1000 automated cell-screening system. Imaging Research said “both of these enabling technologies are licensed exclusively to Amersham Biosciences,” which was acquired by GE in April 2004.

On Imaging Research’s website, GE is listed as a US and Canadian distributor for its products. Other countries in which the company’s products are sold include France, Germany, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, and Taiwan.

Brown Pledges $20M for Genomic Research

Brown University has pledged $20 million to establish a Center for Computational and Molecular Biology at or near its Providence, RI, campus, the Brown Daily Herald reported last week.

The new center will be utilized by five of the school’s departments including its molecular pharmacology, computer science, and molecular biology departments, and will encourage students to investigate the human genome’s 3 billion DNA bases, as well as other databases the university has created but has yet to fully analyze, according to the paper.

The funding is being made available through a private $16 million donation from a Brown trustee with an additional $4 million being pledged by the university.

U of Minnesota Funds Bioinformatics Center with $5M from Microsoft Antitrust Settlement

The University of Minnesota will fund a Consortium for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology by using $5 million in cash and products from Microsoft resulting from an April 2004 antitrust class action lawsuit settlement, the university said last week.

The university, which was not a plaintiff in the case, has received $2.5 million in cash and $2.5 million in product vouchers from the company.

The bioinformatics consortium, comprising nine colleges on the Twin Cities campus as well as the University of Minnesota, Duluth, will be based in the university’s Digital Technology Center. With five new faculty as well as four other staff members to be hired, it will coordinate existing activities in bioinformatics and computational biology at the university.

The new initiative will be funded with the settlement money and $5 million in matching funds from the university.

Affymetrix to Upgrade Pricing Organization After Review By Rapt

Affymetrix will be taking steps to upgrade its pricing organization, software analysis tools, and processes following advice from a pricing and profitability consultancy.

Rapt, a San Francisco-based provider of pricing and profitability management solutions, completed an effort to produce an “end-to-end” operational pricing management infrastructure and implementation plan for Affymetrix, Rapt said this week.

Affymetrix said it contracted Rapt to help them enhance their market position by increasing the company’s capabilities for value-driven pricing. Affy called the recommendations “specific and actionable.”

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.