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Xceed Molecular, Moffitt Cancer Center, University of Manchester, Tepnel Life Sciences, GE Healthcare, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Omnyx, Procarta Biosystems, Iatrica, Research Corporation Technologies, SonoSite, University of Rochester, Los

Xceed Molecular Licenses Moffitt Gene Signature for Colon Cancer Dx Research
Xceed Molecular has licensed the rights to use a gene signature for colon cancer from the Moffitt Cancer Center, the company said this week.
The Wellesley, Mass.-based firm has purchased the worldwide, exclusive rights to use the gene signature to develop a molecular test that can predict patient prognosis for the disease, which Xceed said is diagnosed in over 100,000 Americans each year.
Xceed will work with Tampa, Fla.-based Moffitt researchers to complete clinical development and validation of the signature, which uses biopsy tissues from colonoscopy to predict the chances of return of the disease.
The collaborators hope to develop a list of genes that Xceed will include in its TipChip colon cancer microarray device that runs on the company’s Ziplex System. Xceed said that it will run the first samples in its Expression Services Lab in Toronto to optimize the performance of the signature on the Ziplex System. The company also will provide Moffitt with a Ziplex for additional validation studies.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

U of Manchester and Tepnel Developing Bacterial ID Tech with BBSRC Grant
The University of Manchester and biotech company Tepnel Life Sciences are developing technology for the rapid detection and identification of pathogenic microorganisms with support from a £50,000 ($98,000) grant from the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Tepnel said last week.
The technology, developed in the laboratory of Professor David Clarke of UM’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, detects and identifies living pathogenic micro-organisms and simultaneously generates a profile of their antibiotic resistance, offering much simpler and more rapid targeted antimicrobial treatment than current microbiological methods, Tepnel said.
The technology has broad market potential including the identification and treatment of bacterial, parasite, and fungal infection in both humans and animals. Organisms that could be profiled and treated include methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, C. difficile, pathogenic E. coli, and salmonella.
University of Manchester Intellectual Property Limited, UM’s tech-transfer arm, helped facilitate the partnership with Tepnel. The £50,000 grant was awarded under the BBSRC’s Industry Interchange Program, which supports collaborative commercialization efforts between industry and academia.

GE Healthcare and UPMC Form Joint Company for Digital Pathology Tech
GE Healthcare and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have formed a company to improve the speed and efficiency of the diagnosis and interpretation of lab results.
The new joint company, called Omnyx, will commercialize digital platform products that will enable clinicians to share images virtually, interpret results using advanced algorithms, and reduce costs associated with diagnoses.
Omnyx will bring together early developments in digital x-ray imaging from GE’s Global Research Center with digital pathology developments from UPMC.
The company will operate independently with unspecified financial support from both GE and UPMC. The investment is part of UPMC’s strategy to commercialize its health care, technology, and management expertise under a joint development partnership with GE founded in 2006, the school said.
The state of Pennsylvania is also providing Omnyx with $180,000 to support the creation of at least 40 high-technology jobs within the company over the next three years.
Omnyx will be governed by an executive board that includes Mark Little, senior vice president and director of GE’s Global Research Center; Vishal Wanchoo, president and CEO of GE Healthcare IT; Dan Drawbaugh, chief information officer, UPMC; and Stephen Boochever, executive vice president of UPMC’s International and Commercial Services division.

John Innes Spinout Procarta Wins $629K in Seed Funding for DNA Decoy Tech
Procarta Biosystems, a 2007 spinout of the UK’s John Innes Centre, has received £320,000 ($629,000) in seed funding from the Rainbow Seed Fund and the Iceni Seedcorn Fund to further develop its DNA decoy technology.
Procarta’s technology aims to restore antibiotic efficacy against resistant “superbugs,” such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus. It is based on injectable DNA therapies, called transcription factor decoys, which are short pieces of DNA that inactivate the resistance genes bacteria need to counter antibiotics.
The Rainbow Seed Fund is an early-stage technology venture capital fund with close links to the UK’s leading centers of scientific research outside the universities.
The Iceni Seedcorn Fund was established by a regional consortium of universities and institutes through the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry’s University Challenge Fund. It invests in the commercialization of research from partner academic institutions in the Eastern region of the UK, including the University of East Anglia, the John Innes Centre, the Institute of Food Research, the Sainsbury Laboratory, Plant Bioscience Limited, and the University of Essex.

Johns Hopkins Spinout Iatrica Leases Space at Baltimore Research Park
Iatrica, a 2007 biotech spinout of Johns Hopkins University, has agreed to lease 1,200 square feet at the new John G. Rangos Building within the 1.1 million-square-foot Science and Technology Park, the Baltimore Business Journal reported last week.
Iatrica is developing immunotherapies for preventing and treating cancer.
The $54 million, 278,000-square-foot Rangos building was completed in April. Other tenants include the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences; the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Cangen Biotechnologies; and BioMarker Strategies, a nonprofit biomedical research and science education institute.

RCT Grants License to SonoSite for U of Rochester-Developed Ultrasound Tech
Research Corporation Technologies has granted SonoSite a nonexclusive license to patents owned by RCT that broadly cover ultrasound tissue harmonic imaging, or THI, RCT said this week.
Based in Tucson, Ariz., RCT is a technology-investment and -management company that provides early-stage funding and development services for promising biomedical companies and technologies from universities and research institutions worldwide.
RCT manages the THI technology for the University of Rochester in New York. The technology was developed in the laboratory of Ted Christopher at the university’s Center for Biomedical Ultrasound in the early 1990s.
RCT said that it received US Patent No. 7,104,956, in September 2006; US Patent No. 7,004,905 in February 2006; and US Patent No. 6,206,833 in March 2001. Two other US patents are pending, RCT said.
In addition to SonoSite, RTI has licensed the patent portfolio to Biosound Esaote, Acuson Corporation, Royal Phillips Electronics, and General Electric.

LANL Soliciting Proposals to Spin Out its Technologies
Los Alamos National Laboratory is soliciting proposals from those interested in partnering with the lab and its operating contractor Los Alamos National Security to identify, create, and grow spinout companies based on laboratory technology or know-how.
The Los Alamos Venture Acceleration, or LAVA, Initiative is a pilot program to strategically spin off start-up companies from the laboratory with an emphasis on establishing new businesses in northern New Mexico.
LANL said that LAVA is prepared to provide up to $1 million over three years to support the effort.
Under the LAVA initiative, selected partners are expected to identify, mature, and guide the spin out of technologies developed at the lab into start-up ventures.
The program is complementary to several other regional economic support programs instituted by Los Alamos National Security in 2006, such as the similarly named LANS Venture Acceleration Fund, which provides regional companies up to $100,000 towards the achievement of commercial milestones.
The deadline for proposal submission is June 30, and the initiative is expected to launch October 1. More information about the call for proposals can be found here.

New England Biolabs Licenses Protein-Synthesis Tech from Japan’s PGI
New England Biolabs has acquired worldwide exclusive rights to patents and technology surrounding the Puresystem cell-free protein synthesis technology from Japan’s Post Genome Institute.
Under the agreement, NEB can manufacture and sell products based on technology developed by Takuya Ueda at the University of Tokyo and commercialized as the Puresystem by PGI.
The first product by NEB utilizing the technology will be the PURExpress in vitro protein synthesis kit.
PGI will retain co-exclusive rights to the technology in Japan and Korea, it said. PGI is a Japanese bio-venture company that acquires unused biotechnologies from academia and industry to bring them to market.

Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation Soliciting Grant Applications
The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation said this week that it is soliciting applications from industry and academic scientists for a research grant through the Novel Approaches to Drug Discovery for Alzheimer's Disease award program.
The goal of the program is to accelerate the discovery, development, and clinical evaluation of effective therapies for Alzheimer's disease. This grant award is being made possible through an unspecified donation from Elan Corporation.
Only research programs with lead compounds are eligible. Target discovery and validation programs will not be accepted. Funds may be used for advancing the development of lead compounds through pre-clinical in vitro and in vivo evaluation including pharmacology, toxicology, pharmacokinetics, formulation chemistry, and the conduct of pre-clinical proof-of-concept studies.
A funding priority is Alzheimer's disease drug discovery in emerging biotechnology companies, ADDF said.
Applications are available online here. The application submission deadline date is Oct. 1, 2008.
Applications will be reviewed by an independent scientific review committee convened by ADDF and comprising leading experts in the Alzheimer's drug discovery and development research field and biotechnology investment community. Selections will be made by Dec. 31, 2008, and funding will be awarded in Jan. 2009, ADDF said.

TapImmune Takes Option to UBC Protein Tech to Broaden Vaccine Pipeline
TapImmune this week said that it has executed an exclusive option agreement with the University of British Columbia for three follow-on technologies related to original transporters associated with antigen processing, or TAP, technology acquired by the company from UBC in May 2007.
Under the agreement, TapImmune has the option to acquire the follow-on technologies, which broaden the scope and pipeline of products the company intends to develop around its core TAP molecule-based vaccines.
The TAP technology describes proteins that are responsible for supplying tumor-associated antigens and viral antigens to the surface of infected cells. Without TAP, there are no cancer markers, so the immune system fails to spot the rogue cells and the cancerous cells can grow undetected, TapImmune said.

Aureon to Team with MD Anderson on Lung Cancer Biomarker Study
Aureon Laboratories will work with MD Anderson Cancer Center to search for biomarkers associated with non-small cell lung cancer patients, the Yonkers, NY-based company said this week.
Under the collaboration, Aureon will work with MD Anderson associate professor of pathology Ignacio Wistuba to quantitate and evaluate biomarkers that may be linked to disease progression and the probability of survival.
The project will use Aureon’s systems pathology platform, which uses morphometric imaging on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue specimens, to study tissue from around 350 NSCLC patients.
The company said its system allows it to quantitate and integrate histological attributes and multiplexed protein biomarkers on a cell-by-cell basis. Aureon also said it has developed a multivariate algorithm that can integrate histological, molecular, and clinical features in order to identify phenotypes associated with the course of a disease.
Aggarwal also said that the company’s system has shown utility in stratifying NSCLC patients who are treated with Iressa, a common drug treatment for the disease.

The Scan

Researchers Compare WGS, Exome Sequencing-Based Mendelian Disease Diagnosis

Investigators find a diagnostic edge for whole-genome sequencing, while highlighting the cost advantages and improving diagnostic rate of exome sequencing in EJHG.

Researchers Retrace Key Mutations in Reassorted H1N1 Swine Flu Virus With Avian-Like Features

Mutations in the acidic polymerase-coding gene boost the pathogenicity and transmissibility of Eurasian avian-like H1N1 swine influenza viruses, a PNAS paper finds.

Genome Sequences Reveal Evolutionary History of South America's Canids

An analysis in PNAS of South American canid species' genomes offers a look at their evolutionary history, as well as their relationships and adaptations.

Lung Cancer Response to Checkpoint Inhibitors Reflected in Circulating Tumor DNA

In non-small cell lung cancer patients, researchers find in JCO Precision Oncology that survival benefits after immune checkpoint blockade coincide with a dip in ctDNA levels.