SAE Consortium Signs 12 Drug Makers as 'Formation Members;' Illumina Official is Group's Chairman
Twelve drug makers, including six top-10 pharma companies, signed up as “formation members” of the Severe Adverse Event Consortium, a far-reaching project to identify genetic biomarkers that might predict serious adverse events, according to a presentation made by the chairman of the consortium.
Abbott, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, and Wyeth were listed as “formation members” of the consortium, which aims to “identify and validate” DNA variants that are “clinically useful” in predicting the risk of drug-induced serious adverse events.
The disclosure was made by Arthur Holden, chairman of the SAE Consortium and senior vice president of corporate and market development at Illumina, during a March 6 presentation at a conference sponsored by management and technology consulting firm Diamond.
As part of the project, the drug makers have put up $500,000 apiece for a total of $6 million so far, according to Paul Watkins, director of the Genetic Clinical Research Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a participant in the consortium. The consortium is a public-private endeavor, and it remains unclear how much funding will come from public sources, or who those sources will be.
As reported last week by BioArray News sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News, officials expect the consortium, which will look at adverse events such as hepatotoxicity, rhabdomyolysis, and QT prolongation, to be operational in the next few weeks.
Watkins this week told GenomeWeb Daily News that the consortium will initially try to tackle liver toxicity, and plans to develop a DNA chip for the indication by the end of the year.
In his presentation, Holden, who is also chairman of the Pharmaceutical Biomedical Research Consortium and was chairman and CEO of the SNP Consortium, said the goals of the SAE Consortium are to establish a “coordinated network for obtaining well characterized SAE cases and controls;” “define the required content for an optimal SAE genotyping panel;” develop computational methods to “effectively apply whole-genome analysis to SAE marker development;” create a publicly available “knowledge base to help predict key SAEs across all drugs;” and manage IP relating to markers useful in predicting SAEs “to ensure broad and open access.”
Academic members of the consortium include Eudragene, a European collaboration to establish a case-control DNA collection to study the genetic basis of adverse drug reactions; Diligen, a UK Department of Health-funded program that aims to develop a test to identify patients at high risk of developing drug-induced liver disease; and the Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network, an NIH-funded program created toresearch the causes of drug-induced liver disease; among others.
— Kirell Lakhman and Matt Jones
Protagen Partners with Three Proteomics Groups on Liver Antibody Project
Protagen said last week that it is partnering with the Center for Applied Proteomics in Germany and Shunde Kangdi Antibody Biotech and the Beijing Proteome Research Center in China to develop antibodies against liver proteins.
Protagen said it will create custom protein biochips for quantitative analysis of binding profiles of antibody candidates. The biochips also will analyze the antibody candidates’ off-target activities.
The company, which has offices in Dortmund, Germany, and in Chester, NJ, makes the UniChip line of protein biochips, a biomarker-discovery platform, and a platform for protein-expression libraries and protein arrays.
The Center for Applied Proteomics, a consortium that includes Ruhr University’s Medical Proteome Center, the University of Dortmund, and the Biomedicine Center Dortmund, will use the biochips to study around 200 monoclonal antibodies made by Shunde Kangdi and Beijing PRC, Protagen said.
Protagen said the partners in the project are sharing worldwide commercialization rights for the antibodies analyzed through the partnership.
NIMH Awards Emory Genetics $3.6M for Schizophrenia Gene Study; NimbleGen to Provide Chips
Emory University's School of Medicine has received a $3.6-million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study a human genetic variation that may be linked to schizophrenia, the university said last week.
The university’s Department of Human Genetics will work on the project with a psychiatrist and behavioral specialist at Johns Hopkins University, which collected samples for the research.
The project involves screening 500 schizophrenic patients and 500 non-schizophrenic subjects. The university said it will use DNA chips from NimbleGen Systems to compare DNA copy number variations between subjects and a reference genome.
Stephen Warren, chair of Emory's Human Genetics department, said the project could help locate specific genes that influence schizophrenia and other major psychiatric diseases.
Nasdaq Drops Gene Logic From Biotech Index
Nasdaq said last week that it has dropped Gene Logic from its Biotechnology Index after a semi-annual review of biotechnology companies.
According to the Nasdaq website, companies listed on the Biotechnology Index must maintain a market capitalization of more than $200 million, an average daily trading volume of at least 100,000 shares, and meet certain other criteria. Gene Logic's market cap is currently listed at $48.6 million with volume of 15,872 shares.
Nasdaq reviews and ranks its biotechnology index companies in May and in November. Eligible companies must meet minimum requirements for "market value, average daily share volume and seasoning as a public company.”
Five Japanese Pharmas License Ariadne's Pathway Software
Ariadne said last week it has recently licensed its Pathway Studio Enterprise software to five Japanese pharmaceutical companies through its distribution partner World Fusion.
The software is used to analyze data from microarray, proteomics, and other experiments and is supported by the company’s Resnet mammalian and plant databases.
Ariadne said World Fusion has been distributing its products in Japan since 2004. The company did not name the five pharmaceutical companies that have licensed its software, and financial terms of the agreements were not released.