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BioLineRx, Yissum and Hadasit, Regentech, Johns Hopkins University, White House, NIH, Rules-Based Medicine, University of New Mexico, NCI

BioLineRx Licenses Anti-Cancer Compound From Israeli Universities
BioLineRx last week said that it has gained an exclusive worldwide license to the small molecule BL-4060 from Yissum, the technology-transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Hadasit, the tech-transfer company of Hadassah medical organization.
BL-4060 is an analog of the fatty molecule ceramide for the treatment of cancer. Ceramide is a strong pro-apoptotic agent that induces apoptosis in a variety of cancer cells.
The molecule was discovered by Arie Dagan and Shimon Gatt of the department of biochemistry at Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Hadassah School of Medicine; and Shimon Slavin, head of the bone marrow transplantation and cancer immunotherapy department at Hadassah Medical Center University Hospital.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Regentech Inks Stem Cell Research Pact with Johns Hopkins
Regentech has signed a two-year sponsored research agreement with Johns Hopkins University to develop a treatment for type 1 diabetes using a patient’s adult stem cells expanded in Regentech’s Intrifuge Bioreactor.
Mehboob Hussain, assistant professor of pediatrics and medicine at JHU, is overseeing the research. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Regentech also has research agreements in place with Texas A&M University and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in the areas of stem cell expansion and veterinary bone fractures, respectively.
David Bonner, CEO of Regentech, said in a statement that any intellectual property generated from the research agreements will be owned by the respective universities, but that Regentech will have the right to negotiate exclusive licenses to the technology.

Bush Vetoes Bill That Would Raise NIH Funding Around 4 Percent Over White House Request
President George W. Bush last week vetoed a spending bill that would increase fiscal year 2008 funding for the National Institutes of Health by around 4 percent over the administration's request for NIH in its budget proposal, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
The appropriations bill would have raised the 2008 NIH budget to $30 billion from the $28.7 billion the White House originally requested. The NIH budget in fiscal 2007 was $28.5 billion.
The president made good on his word to veto HR 3043, an appropriations bill that funds the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, Perino said, because it contains some spending that the White House deems “unnecessary.”
Perino said the bill is “nearly $10 billion over the President's request, and is filled with 2,000 earmarks.”
Perino added that Bush “will call on Congress to take out the pork and reduce the overall spending level and return it to him quickly.”
The appropriations bill had originally been bundled with two other spending bills, one for Veterans affairs and one for a water resources act, and Bush had warned last week that he would veto it if it arrived on his desk as a package with the other bills.
The US Senate agreed to separate the bills and passed HR 3043 back to the White House late last week.
For Congress to override Bush’s veto and make the bill law in its present form, it would require a two-thirds majority in both houses. According to the Senate, Congress has historically overridden less than 10 percent of all presidential vetoes.

Rules-Based Medicine Wins $850K NIH Fast-Track Grant; Collaborates With UNM
Rules-Based Medicine last week said that the National Institutes of Health has awarded it an $849,000 “fast-track” grant to develop a diagnostic test for neonatal sepsis.
The research will use RBM’s HumanMAP platform to characterize and validate a pattern of biomarkers that can detect early signs of infection in newborns, and will be conducted in collaboration with the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
The project will examine samples provided by UNM from their Neonatal Intensive Care unit. RBM will administer the grant and perform all of the testing and statistical analysis.

NCI Offers Two Cancer Biomarkers for License
The National Cancer Institute is making two newly developed cancer biomarker technologies available for licensing, one for early diagnosis of ovarian cancer and one to predict patient response to chemotherapy.
The NCI’s Cell and Cancer Biology branch last week issued details about the technology that addresses ovarian cancer, which it said is the fifth most common cancer in US women. Ovarian cancer killed more than 15,000 women in the US in 2006, making it three times more deadly than breast cancer.
NCI is making available for license a gene profile that is based on late-stage, high-grade papillary serous ovarian tumors, which is predictive of patient survival.
The other technology available for license is a gene signature that can predict whether a patient will respond positively to chemotherapy, show an initial response but will relapse without completing chemotherapy, or will not respond at all.
Applications for the technologies include rapid diagnostics and a tool that could be used to select appropriate treatments that may avoid patient exposure to negative side effects of chemotherapy.
NCI said the technology is currently in the pre-clinical development stage.
NCI's Cell and Cancer Biology branch also is seeking partners to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize a gene-expression profile that predicts ovarian cancer patient response to chemotherapy.

The Scan

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.