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GlaxoSmithKline, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Sanaria, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Genelabs Technologies, National Health Research Institutes, Genovate Biotechnology, Innovation International Americas

GSK, HSCI Ink $25M Collaboration Deal to Boost Stem Cell Research
GlaxoSmithKline and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute last week announced that they have entered into a five-year, $25 million-plus collaborative agreement to use stem cell science to expedite the development of treatments and cures for a range of diseases.
GSK’s investment, one of the largest by a pharmaceutical company in stem cell science, will support research at Harvard and in at least four Harvard-affiliated hospitals in six disease areas — neurological, cardiac, cancer, diabetes, musculoskeletal, and obesity.
In addition, GSK will fund an annual grant in HSCI's "seed grant" program, which supports early-stage innovative research; and the collaboration will feature a staff exchange program where scientists will spend up to several months in each other’s laboratories.
The collaboration will be overseen by a joint steering committee made up of HSCI and GSK scientists and managers.
According to HSCI, the planned projects include:
  • An effort at the Joslin Diabetes Center focused on muscle regeneration;
  • Work on fat stem cells and obesity at Massachusetts General Hospital;
  • A project in the cardiovascular area, including the development of cardiomyocyte models for drug screening and discovery at MGH’s Cardiovascular Research Center and Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences;
  • The development of novel therapeutic approaches to selectively target cancer stem cells at MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospital;
  • A neuroscience study that will address ways to block pain and measure risk factors for developing chronic pain at Harvard's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and MGH.

Sanaria, UMBI Win Phase I SBIR to Enhance Malaria Vaccine Production
Vaccine developer Sanaria, based in Rockville, Md., and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute this week announced the receipt of a $600,000, multi-year Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.
The grant will support research and development efforts to genetically engineer mosquitoes that can enhance Sanaria's whole-parasite malaria vaccine production process. The collaboration will use the Insect Transformation Facility at UMBI.
"We have now competed successfully for over $12 million in peer-reviewed NIAID SBIR grants,” Stephen Hoffman, CEO of Sanaria, said in a statement. “The SBIR grants and our other grants are providing more than $50 million to Sanaria. This collaboration with the UMBI provides an excellent opportunity to exploit state-of-the-art mosquito transformation technology in pursuit of our goal of producing very high numbers of malaria parasites in mosquitoes."

Genelabs Partners with Chinese Government, Taiwanese Biotech on HCV Treatments
Genelabs Technologies said last week that it has entered into a collaborative research agreement with the National Health Research Institutes, a non-profit foundation established by the government of the Republic of China, and Taiwanese biopharma firm Genovate Biotechnology.
The intent of the collaboration is to jointly conduct further research to discover and develop compounds that target the hepatitis C virus, Genelabs said.

NHRI and Genelabs scientists will jointly work to discover and develop new HCV drug candidates by utilizing Genelabs’ know-how and lead compounds on an existing target and NHRI’s chemistry and drug discovery expertise.

Additional terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.

Innovation International Americas Launches IP Commercialization Services
Innovation International Americas this week launched a full suite of intellectual property commercialization services to help companies, research labs, and university technology transfer offices market, value, assess, and acquire IP.
Based in New York, IIA said it will focus on “streamlining the exchanges between IP owners and organizations seeking to enhance their IP portfolios, boost product development strategies, strengthen their position in the marketplace, and maximize the return on their IP portfolio investment.”
IIA’s services will include IP marketing, IP valuation, and IP assessment, the company said.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.