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Rapt, Applied Biosystems, SIRS-Lab, US Senate, B-Bridge International, Eli Lilly, ParAllele, NIH, Abbott

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Rapt Discusses Affy Price-Management Project

Rapt, a San Francisco-based provider of price-management solutions, recently provided Affymetrix with a final document of recommendations for improving its price-management infrastructure and pricing strategies.

Karen Alter, a representative from Rapt, said that its recommendations for Affymetrix would remain confidential, but said that Affy had turned to Rapt to stay competitive with its price management.

“Some clients are suffering pain [due to poor price-management practices],” said Alter of her customers, which include Washington Mutual Bank, MSN, and HP. “Others [like Affy] are doing very well and are trying to continue to stay ahead of the curve.”

Alter said that firms in the life sciences industry often neglect developing effective pricing practices because they are focused on developing and commercializing new technologies.

“Lots of folks in this space are highly innovative, but businesses are paying less attention to price management than to data management,” she said.

Sue Siegel, president of Affymetrix, said in a statement that Rapt’s “recommendations were specific and actionable.” Affy did not respond to further inquiries about its relationship with Rapt.

While Alter would not comment on which of its recommendations were the most “actionable,” she did say that it was correct to speculate that prices in the microarray market would be declining in the near future due to increased competition from newer companies.


ABI Developing Human Tissue ‘Body Atlas’

Applied Biosystems is developing a database for publication that will feature gene expression profiles of normal human tissue samples from the entire body, a representative of ABI told the World Microarray Congress in Vancouver, BC, last week.

Tracy Ferea, ABI's manager of microarray products, told congress participants that the human tissue “body map” was being developed by ABI to provide researchers with a reference baseline to compare their gene-expression profiles with. Ferea did not estimate when the atlas would be available. The profiles are being developed using ABI’s Expression Array System.


SIRS-Lab Licenses OGT Chip Technology to Develop, Market Arrays

SIRS-Lab of Jena, Germany, has licensed Oxford Gene Technology’s DNA chip patents to makes its own arrays and distribute them in Europe, the company said last week.

Privately held SIRS-Lab is developing microarray systems for inflammatory diseases and sepsis.

The company said that the IP complements its Lab-Arraytor products and allows for the expansion of the product portfolio for new applications. SIRS-Lab also has genomic and proteomic offerings, and runs a training center for microarray analysis.

Financial details were not discussed.


US Senate Passes Amendment to Add $1.5B to 2006 NIH Budget; Must Still Clear House, Bush

The US Senate last week passed the so-called Specter Amendment to the 2006 federal fiscal budget, which seeks to add $1.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health.

In order for the amendment to go into effect, it must be still be passed by the US House of Representatives and approved by President Bush.

The amendment means extra money for the NIH, in addition to a .7 percent NIH budget increase that has been proposed by President Bush.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology commended the passage of the amendment, praising Senator Arlen Specter as a “tireless champion for biomedical research on behalf of those Americans suffering from illness or injury.”


B-Bridge, Pointilliste Align to Market Antibody Array Technology

B-Bridge International of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Pointilliste of Mountain View, Calif., have expanded their partnership to commercialize Pointilliste’s new custom antibody array technology platform, the firms said last week.

The Universal Canvas technology mutiplexes nine ELISA assays on a 96-well plate and uses standard imaging systems. The companies, which are also collaborating to market another Pontilliste array product, said the new technology will be available within weeks.


Lilly and ParAllele to Launch Affy-based Drug-Metabolism Genotyping Assay

Eli Lilly and ParAllele plan to enable contract research organizations to use their joint genotyping assay in August or September, a Lilly official told Pharmacogenomics Reporter, BioArray News’ sister publication, this week.

The assay, tentatively called MegAllele D-Met, will run on Affymetrix’s GeneChip platform, and the CROs will initially use it to genotype every one of Lilly’s clinical trial participants, said Rick Hockett, medical fellow group leader of genomic medicine at the drug maker.

ParAllele, meantime, said it plans to file the product with the US Food and Drug Administration within the next 12 months with the aim of marketing it as an in vitro diagnostic, said Aaron Solomon, vice president of business development at ParAllele, told Pharmacogenomics Reporter.

The assay, which will become a ParAllele product under its agreement with Lilly, interrogates “about 1,500 SNPs” in approximately 170 genes related to drug metabolism and transport, said Solomon. These genes include “all known” CYP450 enzymes, non-cytochrome enzymes — such as acetylases and transferases — and transport proteins, Hockett said.

The assay ParAllele will submit to the FDA, and will eventually market, will contain a smaller number of SNPs than the original D-Met assay, Solomon said.

Hockett said he “is trying to convince ParAllele and the CROs that this has to be cost-effective. We’re trying to force the retail price for this to be somewhere in the $500 to $700 range per test.”


NIH to Spend $3M on Research into Genomics of Transplantation in FY ‘06

The National Institutes of Health plans to fund genomic studies in clinical transplantation, NIH said last week.

Under the RFA, entitled “Genomics of Transplantation Cooperative Research Program,” NIH plans to fund two or three applications with $3 million in total in fiscal year 2006 to expand its existing research program in this area. Applicants can request up to $700,000 per year in direct costs for up to five years.

Examples of eligible research projects include determination of gene-expression profiles of donor organs and recipients, development of surrogate biomarkers of acute and chronic graft rejection, identification of SNPs, haplotypes, and microsatellite polymorphisms in donors and recipients, determination of gene polymorphisms and expression patterns associated with race, age, and gender in graft rejection, and development of diagnostic tests based on gene expression that will predict rejection.


Abbott Licenses DNA Probes to Ikonisys

Abbott has granted Ikonisys a worldwide license to manufacture and sell DNA probes for its Chromotest, a prenatal diagnostic for chromosomal abnormalities, the companies said this week.

Ikonisys also obtained from Abbott rights to buy chromosome fluorescence in situ hybridization probes in the fields of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and automated detection in amniocytes of FISH signals of the most common chromosomal abnormalities.

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.