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PamGene, Linden Bioscience, Centrex, Stratos, Geron, Celera Genomics

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PamGene Raises €10M Million second Round

Den Bosch, Netherlands-based PamGene announced this week that it has raised €10 million ($11.3 million) in a second round of financing that includes €2.5 million from new investor LCF Rothschild Venture Partners of Paris as well as previous investors Alta Partners (San Francisco), GIMV (Belgium), and LSP (Netherlands).

The company said that the investment will support the development and marketing of the company’s PamStation 96 microarray platform, which is slated for launch in the first quarter of 2004.

Additionally, Pamgene reiterated that it will spin off Check-Points, a microarray-based product for food and water quality control applications, and extended a partnership with Japan-based Olympus’s genomics division, which is also an equity investor in the firm. Financial details were not provided.

PamGene is a 2000 spin-out of Akzo Nobel’s former diagnostics business unit Organon Teknika. The company is commercializing a flow-through microarray chip. In the PamStation 96 system, the flow-through chip will have the footprint of a microtiter plate and each well will contain an array with up to 400 probes.

The company closed a $5.9 million first round of funding in May 2000.

 

Linden Bioscience Licenses Incyte’s Linear mRNA Amplification

Woburn, Mass.-based Linden Bioscience announced this week that it has entered into a non-exclusive license agreement with Incyte to manufacture and sell kits based on Incyte’s technology for linear mRNA amplification. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The new product will be made available to researchers in the next few months, the company said.

Linear amplification technology is based upon antisense RNA amplification and generates, from very small quantities, sufficient RNA for gene expression profiling. Unlike exponential amplification methods such as RT-PCR, antisense RNA amplification maintains the relative ratios of the starting mRNA population, the company said.

 

Centrex Engages Stratos To Put Biosensor on Road to Commercialization

Tulsa, Okla.-based Centrex and Seattle-based Stratos Product Development, an engineering and design firm, announced a collaboration to create a microfluidics-based system for single molecule nucleic acid detection.

Financial details were not provided. The agreement will focus on commercialization of a compact multi-channel detecting system to monitor biological agents in air, food, and water.

Based on technology licensed exclusively from Los Alamos National Laboratories, Centrex’s requires no amplification of target DNA and works by detecting unique DNA or RNA fingerprints of organisms.

Under the agreement, Centrex has retained Stratos to provide custom product design and development of an alpha system for evaluation.

 

Geron, Celera Genomics Concludes Collaboration Yielding 148K cDNA Clones

Geron of Menlo Park, Calif., last week announced the completion of its research collaboration with Celera Genomics Group.

The two firms collaborated to sequence, identify, and analyze the function of genes expressed in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), both in their undifferentiated state and in the course of their differentiation.

The work has resulted in the creation of physical libraries of cloned mRNA transcripts and a database that can be used to identify and assign function to genes important in early human development, and to support development of small molecule pharmaceuticals, protein therapeutics, cell and gene therapies, diagnostics, and tools for use in drug discovery and testing.

The collaboration yielded over 148,000 individual cDNA clones representing more than 32,000 genes in the human genome. This sequence information was used to create a unique, searchable, database of gene expression information that can be used to identify genes preferentially associated with the undifferentiated state of hESCs and to study changes in the activities of individual genes during the early stages of differentiation.

Geron identified 532 genes that are expressed at particularly high levels in undifferentiated cells, representing growth factors, receptors, transcription factors, structural proteins, metabolic factors, and signal transduction molecules that may be important in maintaining the pluripotent state of the hESCs. Also identified were 140 genes that were relatively poorly expressed in undifferentiated hESCs but are upregulated during differentiation. Geron reported on the research in a presentation at the International Society of Stem Cell Research in Washington, DC on June 9, 2003.

Geron plans to use the database information to enhance its understanding of how to induce and control differentiation of hESCs into specialized cells.

The Scan

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In Science this week: a novel RNA structural element that acts as a splicing enhancer, and more.