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AstraZeneca, Columbia University Medical Center, BASF Plant Science, University of Manitoba, Q Therapeutics, Johns Hopkins University, BioWisdom

AstraZeneca and Columbia University Medical Ink Research Pact for Depression, Anxiety Rxs
AstraZeneca and Columbia University Medical Center last week announced a research collaboration to examine how neurogenesis in adults might offer novel approaches to treating depression and anxiety.
AstraZeneca will be working primarily with Rene Hen, professor of neuroscience and psychiatry at CUMC. Hen said in a statement that the collaboration will specifically seek to harness the potential of adult-born neurons to stimulate hippocampal function and possibly treat mood and cognitive disorders faster and with fewer side effects.
Additional terms of the research agreement were not disclosed.
In June, AstraZeneca and CUMC announced a strategic research collaboration in the area of metabolic disease.

BASF Plant Science Licenses Plant Hardiness Gene from University of Manitoba
BASF Plant Science and the University of Manitoba this week said that BASF has licensed a gene discovery from the university related to increased crop yields and stress tolerance.
Under the terms of the agreement, BASF Plant Science will test, develop, and, subject to positive field trial results, market the discovery, made by Robert Hill and colleagues at the University of Manitoba.
The discovery may be used in major food crops such as corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, and rice, according to BASF.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Q Therapeutics, Johns Hopkins Commence Collaborative Studies on ALS
Q Therapeutics announced this week that studies are underway with researchers at Johns Hopkins University to build on recent results showing that glial progenitor cells have a therapeutic benefit in a model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Q Therapeutics said that results of Johns Hopkins’ initial studies in this area appear in a paper published this week in Nature Neuroscience.
Q’s collaboration with the laboratory of Nicholas Maragakis at Johns Hopkins will focus on the ability of Q’s human glial progenitor cells, known as Q-Cells, to protect motor neurons from degeneration in the SOD-1 rat model of ALS.
The collaboration will support the development of a therapeutic product for treatment of ALS, Q said. In parallel, Q Therapeutics will continue to manufacture the cellular product with the University of Utah Cell Therapy Facility, and to perform pre-clinical safety studies to support a future Investigational New Drug submission to the US Food and Drug Administration.
The work is being supported by a grant from the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund and Q Therapeutics (see BTW, 6-18-08). Maragakis, an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins, is principal investigator and James Campanelli, senior director of research and development at Q, is co-investigator on the grant.

UK’s BioWisdom Launches Visualization Software for Patent Specialists
Healthcare informatics firm BioWisdom this week announced the release of OmniViz Visualization Software for patent specialists.
According to BioWisdom, which is based in Cambridge, UK, OmniViz Visualization software can be used to analyze thousands of patents using a straightforward and rapid process.
“OmniViz is unique in being able to analyze thousands of patent documents, automatically analyzing trends and associations [in a way] that is just not possible with any other product on the market today” Chris Hodkinson, COO of BioWisdom, said in a statement.
The company said that in particular OmniViz could be used in combination with the company’s Patent Harvester software, an interface for searching and downloading patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The Scan

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

TB Resistance Insights Gleaned From Genome Sequence, Antimicrobial Response Assays

Researchers in PLOS Biology explore M. tuberculosis resistance with a combination of sequencing and assays looking at the minimum inhibitory concentrations of 13 drugs.

Mendelian Disease Genes Prioritized Using Tissue-Specific Expression Clues

Mendelian gene candidates could be flagged for further functional analyses based on tissue-specific transcriptome and proteome profiles, a new Journal of Human Genetics paper says.

Single-Cell Sequencing Points to Embryo Mosaicism

Mosaicism may affect preimplantation genetic tests for aneuploidy, a single-cell sequencing-based analysis of almost three dozen embryos in PLOS Genetics finds.