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Najít Technologies, Ontario Genomics Institute, Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, Nara Biosciences, Boston, University, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Merck, Calibrant Biosystems, Yale University School of Medicine, University Technologies Inter

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OHSU Spinout Najít Tech Wins $1.65M NIH Grant to Develop Bioterror Dx
 
Najít Technologies, a spinout of the Oregon Health and Science University, said this week that it has won a $1.65 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop diagnostic tests for bioterrorism attacks.
 
Under the grant, Mark Slifka, an associate scientist at OHSU’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, and president and CSO of Najít, will work with Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, to develop diagnostic tests for poxviruses.
 
Najít was founded in 2004 to commercialize technology developed at OHSU and develop rapid diagnostic assays and vaccines for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
 

 
Ontario Institute Launches Genomics Sector Innovation Network
 
The non-profit Ontario Genomics Institute and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation have launched an initiative called the Genomics Sector Innovation Network that aims to link various stakeholders in Ontario's genomics sector.
 
The network is an online portal that will contain searchable information about large-scale genomic and proteomic projects as well as participating researchers and institutions. It is intended to be a knowledge and communication base for those in working in genomics on the academic research, industry, and investment fronts in Ontario and the rest of Canada, OGI said last week.
 
The site also includes resources for those interested in genomics-related employment opportunities, technology transfer, and news.
 
The Genomics Sector Innovation Network portal is available here.
 

 
Nara Biosciences Licenses MyoMouse Tech from BU
 
Nara Biosciences said last week that it has completed an agreement to exclusively license the MyoMouse discovery platform from Boston University.
 
Nara, which is developing therapies for muscle-wasting and aging diseases, will also have all commercial rights to novel therapeutic factors discovered using the MyoMouse.
 
Developed in the laboratory of BU professor Kenneth Walsh, the MyoMouse is a genetically engineered mouse that inducibly expresses the Akt1 gene. The result is an animal with increased type II skeletal muscle fibers that also exhibits decreased insulin resistance, blood glucose, and body fat without an increase in physical activity or loss of appetite.
 
The licensing agreement also covers signaling proteins secreted by the mouse’s type II muscle called myokines, which Nara intends to develop along with other myokines into therapies for a variety of metabolic and muscle-wasting disorders “either independently or with strategic partners,” Nara said in a statement.
 
Financial terms of the licensing deal were not disclosed.
 

 
Merck Taps Dana-Farber for Genomic Analysis of Cancer Therapeutics
 
The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will use cross-species genomic analysis and validation testing in a cancer drug-discovery collaboration with Merck, the institute said this week.
 
Under the agreement, Merck will provide the Center for Applied Cancer Science at Dana-Farber with up-front and research support funding and with milestone and royalty payments if a drug is approved for marketing. CACS will retain the right to develop its antibodies independently from the collaboration with Merck.
 
The CACS will work with Merck to develop assays for lead compound discovery, and then test the drugs in its model systems that “closely replicate human disease,” CACS said.
 
CACS faculty will work with Merck to further evaluate tumor pathobiology and clinical outcomes to better pinpoint the tumor types that are most susceptible to drug candidates.
 
Further terms of the alliance were not disclosed.
 

 
Calibrant, Yale to Collaborate on Ovarian, Breast Cancer Drug ID Study
 
Calibrant Biosystems said last week that it will collaborate with researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine to identify ovarian and breast cancer drug targets from clinical tissue specimens using Calibrant’s Gemini proteomics platform.
 
Calibrant, based in Gaithersburg, Md., said that it would identify proteins and protein networks involved in ovarian and breast cancer and select therapeutic targets found to be central to disease progression. The firm will collaborate with Fattaneh Tavasolli, a professor of pathology and director of the Women’s Health Program/Gynecology and Breast Pathology at Yale.
 
Financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.
 

 
U of Calgary Tech Transfer Wins $185K Support Grant from AHFMR
 
University Technologies International, the tech-transfer arm of the University of Calgary, said this week that it has been awarded a two-year, $185,000 grant from Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research to support UTI’s tech-transfer efforts.
 
The funding, which is part of AHFMR’s ForeFront Program, includes an $80,000 executive-in-residence award that allows UTI to continue to provide personnel for its company-creation division called IGNITE; and a $105,000 Block Grants Award for early-stage commercialization support of medical and health technologies.
 
Under the IGNITE program, executives-in-residence are hired to act as CEO or managing director for early-stage companies based on university-developed technology. The Block Grant Awards support UTI’s licensing and business development efforts, which focus on screening technologies for feasibility and commercial viability.
 
“AHFMR’s ForeFront Program addresses a critical need in commercializing early-stage technologies in the province,” Paul Cataford, president and CEO of UTI, said in a statement.

The Scan

Should've Been Spotted Sooner

Scientists tell the Guardian that SARS-CoV-2 testing issues at a UK lab should have been noticed earlier.

For Martian Fuel

Researchers have outlined a plan to produce rocket fuel on Mars that uses a combination of sunlight, carbon dioxide, frozen water, cyanobacteria, and engineered E. coli, according to Gizmodo.

To Boost Rapid Testing

The Washington Post writes that new US programs aim to boost the availability of rapid at-home SARS-CoV-2 tests.

PNAS Papers on Strawberry Evolution, Cell Cycle Regulators, False-Positive Triplex Gene Editing

In PNAS this week: strawberry pan-genome, cell cycle-related roles for MDM2 and MDMX, and more.