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BioLineRx, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Rochester Medical Center, UCLA Nanotech Institute, Abraxis, Inovio Biomedical, NCI, IAVI, Illumina, University of Pennsylvania, Broad Institute, NHLBI, Nuon Therapeutics

UIUC Licenses Cancer Small Molecule to Israel’s BioLineRx
BioLineRx and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said last week that they have entered into an exclusive, worldwide licensing agreement for the research, development, and commercialization of BL-4030, a small molecule with the potential for treating cancer.
Under the terms of the agreement, BioLineRx, based in Jerusalem, Israel, has licensed BL-4030 from UIUC, marking the company’s first licensing agreement with a US-based university.
BL-4030 was developed in the laboratory of Paul Hergenrother, a professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois. The molecule is designed to induce apoptosis in certain malignant tumors by activating a specific protein called procaspase 3, which is highly elevated in certain cancers.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

U of Rochester Medical Establishes Incubator for Early-Stage Life Science Firms
The University of Rochester Medical Center last week announced the establishment of the Rochester BioEnterprise Center, a new facility that will support the development of early-stage biotechnology and life science companies.
The new facility is supported by $2.5 million in funding from the state of New York’s GenNYsis program. The university has converted a former Wyeth laboratory building into 40,000 square feet of office and laboratory space. The facility will be the first technology incubator in the region, UR said.
The new center will provide early-stage companies access to lab and office space, shared administrative resources, production and storage facilities, and access to specialized laboratory equipment. The facility will be managed by High Tech Rochester, which also manages the Lennox Tech Enterprise Center, which caters to non-biotechnology-based companies.
The center will be open to any qualified early-stage life science, biotech, chemical, pharmaceutical, medical, dental, or health service company, regardless of its relationship with the university. UR said that three clients have already been confirmed: URMC Labs, NaturalNano, and Egenix.

UCLA Nanotech Institute, Abraxis Enter $10M, 10-Year Research Agreement
The California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles will collaborate with Abraxis Bioscience on nanobiotechnology research, the institute said last week.
Under the terms of the partnership, Abraxis, based in Los Angeles, has agreed to contribute $10 million over 10 years to fund collaborative projects at UCLA’s new CNSI building. The new research center will focus on translational biotechnology and nanotechnology research.
Abraxis is the first pharmaceutical partner in CSNI’s Partners Program, which pairs CSNI researchers with industrial scientists. Visiting scholars from other institutions will also be able to participate in the collaborative research programs.
In June, Abraxis said that it had exclusively licensed worldwide development and commercialization rights for diagnostic protein biomarkers related to colorectal cancer from the University of Southern California, marking one of the biggest licensing deals for USC since it established the Stevens Institute for Innovation earlier this year (see BTW 6/25/2007).

Inovio Signs Research Pacts with NCI, IAVI for HIV Vaccine Tech
Inovio Biomedical has entered into separate collaborative research agreements with the National Cancer Institute and the International Aids Vaccine Initiative to evaluate Inovio’s electroporation technology for delivering DNA vaccines, the San Diego-based company said last week.
The collaboration with NCI is being conducted under a cooperative research and development agreement and will assess novel HIV constructs in non-human primates, cytokine genes as vaccine adjuvants, and possibly anticancer therapies delivered using the electoporation delivery technology, Inovio said. The work will be performed in collaboration with George Pavlakis and Barbara Felder of the NCI’s Frederick, Md., facility.
Inovio’s collaboration with IAVI will focus on optimizing HIV vaccine design. Experimental HIV vaccines will be screened in preclinical models to select the most efficacious designs to advance to clinical testing, Inovio said. This work will be conducted at IAVI’s AIDS Vaccine Development Laboratory in Brooklyn, NY.

Illumina to Co-develop SNP Chip for Vascular Disease with NHLBI, Penn, and Broad
Illumina said last week that it will develop a custom SNP microarray for the study of vascular diseases through a "multi-million dollar" collaboration with the Institute of Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania, the Broad Institute, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Candidate-gene Association Resource (CARe) Consortium.
The CARe consortium, initiated by the NHLBI in 2006, aims to create a resource for analyzing the association of phenotypes linked to diseases that are within the Institute's scope.
The IBC chip, named for ITMAT, Broad, and CARe, will be used to analyze more than 55,000 SNPs in genes that have been selected for cardiovascular-related phenotypes.
Illumina said the collaborators will use the Illumina iSelect Custom Genotyping BeadChip to study the genetic diversity of pathways for around 2,100 genes that are linked to vascular conditions including blood pressure issues, myocardial infarction, heart failure, stroke, insulin resistance, metabolic disorders, dyslipidemia, and inflammation. The iSelect BeadChip enables scientists to train their research on specific SNPS related to pathways or disease.
The company said that the study plans to analyze more than 120,000 samples from population studies and clinical trials for possible links to vascular disease.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.

Nuon Therapeutics’ $5M Financing Round to Further Therapies Licensed from ICL, Stanford
Clinical-stage biotechnology company Nuon Therapeutics last week announced the completion of a $5 million series A financing round with GBS Venture Partners of Australia.
Nuon is developing therapies for autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, and has an exclusive license to technology developed by Imperial College London and Stanford University. The company is based in San Francisco, with preclinical operations and clinical development laboratories in the UK, US, and Australia.
The series A funding will enable Nuon to advance its orally active lead compound, tranilast, through the next stage of clinical development and support the discovery and development of additional compounds, Nuon said.
Initially, the funding will be used to develop and protect the company’s intellectual property portfolio, hire staff, secure supply of drug product, undertake related licensing, and file a US Food and Drug Administration investigational new drug application, the company said.

The Scan

Cell Signaling Pathway Identified as Metastasis Suppressor

A new study in Nature homes in on the STING pathway as a suppressor of metastasis in a mouse model of lung cancer.

Using Bees to Gain Insights into Urban Microbiomes

As bees buzz around, they pick up debris that provides insight into the metagenome of their surroundings, researchers report in Environmental Microbiome.

Age, Genetic Risk Tied to Blood Lipid Changes in New Study

A study appearing in JAMA Network Open suggests strategies to address high lipid levels should focus on individuals with high genetic risk and at specific ages.

Study Examines Insights Gained by Adjunct Trio RNA Sequencing in Complex Pediatric Disease Cases

Researchers in AJHG explore the diagnostic utility of adding parent-child RNA-seq to genome sequencing in dozens of families with complex, undiagnosed genetic disease.