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Appropriate Technical Resources, Cellexus Biosystems, U at Buffalo, Reichert Analytical Instruments, Stem Cell Sciences, CyBio AG, Promega, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Applied Biosystems, MGIND, Advion BioSciences, Ther

ATR to Distribute Cellexus Products In US
Cellexus Biosystems this week announced that it has entered into a non-exclusive distribution agreement with Appropriate Technical Resources, a provider of fermentation equipment and cell culture systems.
Under the terms of the agreement, Laurel, Md.-based ATR will distribute Cellexus Biosystems’ products throughout the US. 
According to Cellexus, the agreement will provide its growing US customer base with further local support. It represents one of several steps that UK-based Cellexus is taking to expand its market share in the US.

UB and Reichert Sign Deals, Look to Develop Cell Volume Cytometer
The University at Buffalo's Office of Science Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach last week announced the completion of licensing and research agreements with Depew, NY-based Reichert Analytical Instruments. These agreements pave the way for developing and marketing a cell volume cytometer.
The applications of this technology include the detection of drug/cell interactions, bacterial sensitivity to antibiotics, and cancer cell susceptibility to chemotherapeutic agents.
According to UB, the CVC will also be developed for disease diagnosis and treatment selection. The university said that the project has already created several new inventions, including a patent-pending system for calibrating alternating current sensors.
The project between UB and Reichert was funded by a $750,000 grant from the New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research and matching funds from Reichert, which has licensed the technology.
If successfully developed, the research version of the CVC will allow researchers to examine the response of any cell or organelle to its environment more quickly, easily, and with fewer materials, according to UB researchers.
Reichert is a provider of ophthalmic instruments, laboratory refractometers, and microscope services.

SCS Licenses Technology That Blocks hESC Death
Stem Cell Sciences this week announced the exclusive in-licensing of a technology it said is expected to significantly accelerate the application of human embryonic stem cells in both research and cell-based therapies.
This discovery, made by Yoshiki Sasai's team at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, uses a class of compounds known as Rho-associated kinase inhibitors to block the onset of stem cell death when the clusters of growing cells are dissociated for transfer and scale-up. The investigators published a paper on their work in the May 27th issue of Nature Biotechnology.
The use of selective ROCK inhibitors was effective on all hES cell lines tested. This technique will allow for the large-scale, automated production that is needed for industrial research and clinical application, according to SCS.
SCS has secured exclusive rights to the discovery in all global territories except Japan, where it holds non-exclusive rights. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

CyBio and Promega Ink Liquid Handling Deal
CyBio AG and Promega this week announced that that they have signed a long-term collaboration agreement for the joint development and co-marketing of applications on CyBio’s liquid handling instruments.
The goal of this agreement is to jointly develop validated application protocols and to market those for high-throughput screening processes in drug development and life science research.

p53 microRNA Component Has New Function
Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Applied Biosystems this week announced they have discovered that a family of microRNAs is a component in the p53 pathway, and stops the growth of tumor cells in mice. This tumor suppressor capability represents a newly discovered function for miRNAs.
The finding may also suggest new approaches for treating cancers. The results of the team's two-year collaboration will be published in the June 28th issue of Nature. Other co-authors were from Stony Brook University and Rosetta Inpharmatics.
In their study, the researchers performed extensive gene expression profiling experiments that identified three miRNA genes, called miR-34s, as candidate tumor suppressor genes. They were then able to detect significant changes in the amount of miR-34 miRNAs in mouse cells that had been constructed both with and without copies of the p53 gene. Follow-up validation research with mice by scientists at CSHL revealed the cancer fighting function of the miRNAs.
Results of this study also showed that expression levels of the three miR-34 genes increased in mouse tumor cells that contained a functioning p53 gene compared to those in cells without the p53 gene. The resulting miR-34 miRNAs then repressed the expression of other genes related to cell growth.

MGIND Scientists Find Possible Parkinson’s Drug Target
Researchers at the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease this week announced that they have identified a potential new drug target for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and possibly for other degenerative neurological disorders.
The investigators found that blocking the action of the SIRT2 enzyme can protect the neurons damaged in Parkinson’s disease from the toxic effects of the alpha-synuclein protein, which accumulates in the brains of Parkinson’s patients. Study findings also suggest that inhibiting this pathway could help in the treatment of other conditions in which abnormal proteins accumulate in the brain.
The paper will be published in an upcoming issue of Science, but was released early on the Science Express website.

Advion BioSciences Will Offer Immunochemistry Services
Advion BioSciences, through its BioServices subsidiary, this week announced that it will begin offering bioanalytical immunochemistry services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry starting next month.
According to Advion, this business will allow it to provide large molecule discovery and development services to the macromolecule drug pipelines underway throughout the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.
Esme Farley and Byron Simpson will lead the scientific team. The facility will be located in Manassas, Va. 
In this new laboratory, Advion will provide a full range of ligand-binding assays for the development and validation of traditional and custom designed ELISAs, RIAs, immunoassays, immunogenicity tests, multiplexed biomarker assays, cell-based assays, and flow cytometry.
Immunoassay services in support of development programs will be conducted under GLP conditions with the support of Advion’s existing infrastructure. All of Advion’s pre-existing quality and regulatory processes will be implemented at the new facility.

Thermo Fisher Opens New RNAi Lab
Thermo Fisher Scientific this week announced the opening of a new RNAi Discovery and Therapeutic Services laboratory at its RNAi research and production center in Lafayette, Colo. The new laboratory offers advanced RNAi screening and analysis services, as well as development of new therapeutic technologies involving RNAi.
According to the company, the laboratory features an integrated platform of Thermo Scientific technologies. These technologies include Dharmacon siRNA and miRNA libraries, BioImage and Cellomics HCS reagents and image analysis instrumentation, and robotics and software for laboratory automation.
The laboratory will provide supplemental resources for labs already using RNAi technology. Services range from a single screen to multi-component projects, and include RNAi-based HTS and hit validation, HCS, microRNA expression profiling and analysis, in addition to automation and integration. Therapeutic discovery and technology development is also available for clients pursuing RNAi-based therapeutics.

OPTRA System Opens Center of Excellence 
OPTical Recognition and Algorithm Systems last week announced the launch of its Center of Excellence in Biomedical Image Informatics. According to the Pune, India-based company, the center aims to create an infrastructure for biomedical image analysis, pattern matching, artificial intelligence, and expert systems for health care, life science, drug discovery and research, clinical trials, and patient care.
Announcing the center’s launch at a press conference, OPTRA President and CEO Abhi Gholap said, “OPTRA’s growth in image informatics solutions is a reflection of our focus on this important industry segment and our continuing commitment to undertake several customer-centric initiatives in this area. The Center of Excellence will be instrumental in helping the company apply the latest imaging technologies and innovations.”
Gholap went on to say that, “OPTRA Systems, through its partnership with leading biotech, pharma, and biomedical instrumentation companies, aims to generate intellectual property. This will support research to develop image processing applications for the rapidly growing biomedical imaging software industry.”

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.